Machete-wielding man caught at airport carrying explosives dies

NewsBy Karl Doyle
Police at New Orleans airport
Police at New Orleans airport

A machete-wielding man who died after he 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 last night 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 petrol.

There was also a barbeque lighter and a letter opener in the bag, Mr 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.

Mr Normand says White died in hospital from his gunshot wounds yesterday.

The sheriff suggested that the suspect has had "mental health" issues. His family has been cooperating with the investigation.

The suspect, 63, was a Jehovah's Witness and had refused "certain types of medical care," Mr Normand said.

"Fortunately, he didn't seriously injure anybody," he added.

Authorities also found smoke bombs and tanks of acetelyne, Freon and oxygen in the trunk of White's car, Mr Normand said, but investigators didn't say what, if anything, the suspect intended to do with the materials.

Mr Normand said White sprayed Transportation Security Administration agents and several passengers in the checkpoint queue with wasp killer insecticide. 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 Mr Normand.

White was chasing TSA agent Carroll Richel when Lt Slyve felled him with her shots. Ms Richel, who was hit in the arm by one of the rounds, credited Lt Slyve with saving her life.

"Officer Slyve is my hero," Ms Richel said.