Saturday, March 21, 2015

Machete-wielding man shot after attack on TSA agents at New Orleans airport

Machete-wielding man shot after attack on TSA agents at New Orleans airport

Published March 21, 2015

A man armed with a machete and insecticide attacked two Transportation Security Agency workers at a New Orleans airport late Friday before he was shot multiple times by an officer, police said.

Richard White, 62, approached the airport security checkpoint Friday evening, pulled out a can of the insecticide and began spraying both agents and several passengers standing in line before he then drew a large machete from the waistband of his pants, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said.

The male officer grabbed some luggage to defend himself from the machete, and then was chased by White, Normand said.

White then ran through the detector chasing a female TSA agent when Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Lt. Heather Slyve drew her weapon. As she approached White, he continued to swing his machete. Slyve fired three rounds, striking White in the face, chest and leg.

The gunfire struck a TSA agent in the arm, police said. Some bystanders suffered minor injuries as they scrambled to leave the area, police said.

White was still alive and in surgery at a hospital, Normand said.

Bystanders described minutes of panic and chaos at the airport in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner.
"Everyone was ducking for cover. It's New Orleans. I knew they (the gunshots) were coming from the security checkpoint area," said Garret Laborde, 31, a traveler trying to fly to Houston. "I immediately ducked down ... Then we waited."

He called the scene "instant chaos" with "screaming, lots of females screaming for a short period of time." Some bystanders ran to get out of the way and received minor cuts and bruises, the sheriff said.

Brett Leonard, whose flight from San Francisco landed in New Orleans shortly before the attack, told the Associated Press that passengers had no idea what happened until they walked outside after getting their bags. Leonard said he was packed into a cab with several strangers as police evacuated the area.

Passenger Jeremy Didier told that he saw someone "jump past the security guards waving a machete and cutting people." Another traveler, Cameron Matthews, reported hearing several shots and seeing people running before she hid until the incident was over.

Logan Tucker, 26, of Meridian, Mississippi, and Phillip Green, 33, of Houston, both deckhands on a tugboat headed to Houston for work, said they were about 25 yards from where the incident unfolded.
"I heard the gunshots," Tucker said.
"It was pandemonium after that," Green said. "I took cover. I didn't want to become part of the story."
Green said they saw the machete and the suspect on the ground as they were leaving. The knife was about 14 inches long, he said.

The male officer was taken to a local hospital, where he was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the TSA said. The entire airport was closed for about 20 minutes.

White is a taxi driver who recently received his chauffeur's license, authorities said. He has "little to no criminal history" aside from a few disturbing the peace and traffic charges, Normand added.

Normand said authorities do not believe White posed a national security threat, and were investigating whether he had any connections to the airport or anyone who was there Friday night.

FBI agents were at the airport and were assisting with the investigation, a bureau spokesman said.