KENNER, La. (AP) – Authorities say the machete-wielding man who was shot at New Orleans’ international airport after trying to attack passengers and security agents was carrying explosives at the time.
Sheriff Newell Normand said suspect Richard White, who was shot three times by a security agent late Friday after approaching a security checkpoint spraying insecticide and brandishing a machete, was also carrying a bag loaded with six Molotov cocktails – six Mason jars with cloth wicks soaked in gasoline.
There was also a barbeque lighter and a letter opener in the bag, Normand said at a press conference at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Residue from smoke bombs was also found near White’s body.
Normand says White is hospitalized with gunshot wounds and is currently “unconscious.”
The sheriff suggested that the suspect has had “mental health” issues. His family has been cooperating with the investigation.
The suspect, 63, is a Jehovah’s Witness and has refused “certain types of medical care,” Normand said.
“Fortunately, he didn’t seriously injure anybody,” Normand said.
Authorities also found smoke bombs and tanks of acetelyne, Freon and oxygen in the trunk of his car, Normand said, but investigators didn’t what, if anything, White intended to do with the materials.
Normand said White sprayed Transportation Security Administration agents and several passengers in line at the checkpoint with wasp killer. He then drew a large machete from the waistband of his pants. A male TSA agent blocked the machete with a piece of luggage as White ran through a metal detector.
Lt. Heather Slyve of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office drew her weapon. White continued to swing the machete as she approached, and she fired three rounds, striking him in the face, chest and leg, according to Normand.
White was chasing TSA agent Carroll Richel when Slyve felled him with her shots. Richel, who was hit in the arm by one of the rounds, credited Slyve with saving her life.
“Officer Slyve is my hero,” Richel said.