Sheriff: New Orleans airport machete attack suspect had Molotov cocktails – USA TODAY

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Sheriff: New Orleans airport machete attack suspect had Molotov cocktails

New Orleans airport attack sends passengers ducking for cover




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Ron Hicks was standing in front of alleged attacker Richard White in the TSA line at Armstrong International Airport. Hear him describe the scene and what he saw unfold right in front of him.

A mentally ill 63-year-old man who allegedly attacked Transportation Security Administration workers Friday night at New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport may have been planning to bomb the airport as well, police revealed Saturday, saying he carried a bag filled with six gasoline-filled Molotov cocktails.

They also found an acetylene tank and other supplies in the suspect’s car.

Speaking to reporters Saturday afternoon, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said that during the attack the suspect, Richard White, carried a bag with “six half-pint mason jars, with cloth wicks into a liquid that we now know to be gasoline, which you would commonly refer to as a Molotov cocktail.” Normand said.

Police also found smoke bombs in the suspect’s car.

White remained hospitalized from three bullet wounds on Saturday. Normand said police “very much want to talk to him,” but may not get a chance.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the incident “an unexpected attack by a clearly troubled and disturbed individual.” Landrieu said police “acted quickly, they acted heroically” and saved lives.

Bystanders caught in the chaos said police quickly fired shots to subdue the alleged attacker, sending passengers fleeing and ducking for cover.

“Mostly everybody was getting down to the ground and trying to hide under chairs,” Nicole Danjean told The Times-Picayune. Danjean, who had been traveling from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., said she was at her gate when she heard three or four gunshots, then heard someone yell, “Everybody get down!”

Police said White approached an airport security checkpoint Friday evening, produced a can of wasp killer and began spraying agents and passengers who were standing in line.

Then he drew a large machete from the waistband of his pants and began swinging. A male TSA agent blocked the machete with a piece of luggage as White ran through a metal detector, then chased a female agent, said Normand.

That’s when Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Heather Slyve drew her weapon, he said. White continued to swing the machete as Slyve approached, and she fired three rounds, striking him in the face, chest and leg.

A TSA agent was struck in the arm by one of the bullets, authorities said, but the wound wasn’t life-threatening.

White was taken into surgery at a hospital overnight, Normand said.

Investigators were trying to determine what White was doing at the airport. They didn’t immediately offer a motive for the attack. He lives about 2 miles from the airport in nearby Kenner, La., and Normand said it didn’t appear as if he was trying to get on a plane. He said on Saturday that police were investigating “a mental illness component” in attack.

A neighbor, Donna Jackson, told the Times-Picayune that White was a former Army serviceman, long since retired and living off Social Security and disability checks. He was a deeply religious man, she said, a Jehovah’s Witness who shunned Western medicine and encouraged Jackson to use herbal remedies, even to treat her diabetes.



Police are still investigating why 63-year-old Richard White attacked two federal officers with wasp spray and a machete at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

The sheriff’s office said White had been arrested several times for minor violations.

Bystanders described panic and chaos after Slyve fired the shots. “Everyone was ducking for cover,” Garret Laborde, 31, who was flying to Houston, told the Associated Press.

“I knew they (the gunshots) were coming from the security checkpoint area,” he said. “I immediately ducked down.”

He called the scene “instant chaos” with “lots of females screaming.” He remained down for several minutes and soon sirens went off, along with announcements ordering passengers to evacuate.

Jeremy Didier of Kansas City was returning from a trip in Florida with her 14-year-old daughter when she heard screaming. “I saw a man jumping over people” at the security line, she told the Times-Picayune. Didier said she heard shots and “everyone hit the floor.”

Logan Tucker, 26, of Meridian, Miss., and Phillip Green, 33, of Houston, both headed to Houston for work as deckhands on a tugboat, said they were about 25 yards from where the attack unfolded. “I heard the gunshots,” Tucker told the Associated Press.

“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. He saw a TSA agent with an injury to her arm. “It was not something you expect in an airport, and I’ve traveled a lot,” Tucker said.

Travelers clapped for the TSA agent as they passed her, witnesses said. The agent seemed to be in good spirits — she smiled and waved to passengers as they walked by.



A man who slashed TSA officers at the Armstrong International Airport on Friday night is ‘unresponsive’ according to the local sheriff.

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