Man shot and killed after attacking TSA agents with machete, bug spray

Police say an airport sheriff's lieutenant stationed nearby shot the suspect at least three times. The man, a 63-year-old local, was later found to be in possession of six Molotov cocktails.
By Doug G. Ware and Fred Lambert  |  Updated March 21, 2015 at 9:56 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, March 20 (UPI) -- An elderly man died Saturday due to multiple gunshots sustained at New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport late Friday after he attacked three Transportation Security Administration agents with a machete and a can of insecticide, authorities said.

Police said the suspect, identified as Richard White, 63, approached TSA agents in the airport's B concourse at about 7:30 p.m. local time. As he spoke with an agent who was checking boarding passes, he allegedly raised a can of insecticide and sprayed the officer in the face, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

Officials say White then sprayed another TSA agent and went after a third with the machete. Moments later, a sheriff's lieutenant stationed nearby shot the man in the face, chest and thigh, police said. White died in the hospital on Saturday before investigators could speak with him.

Police discovered that a bag White had dropped in the initial confrontation was filled with homemade petrol bombs.

"What the bag revealed was six half-pint mason jars with cloth wicks into a liquid that we now know to be gasoline -- what you would commonly refer to as a Molotov cocktail," Sheriff Newell Normand told CNN.

Bomb squads discovered smoke bombs in White's car and three tanks filled with Freon, oxygen and acetylene -- a gas used in metal welding -- though their purpose remains unclear, Normand said.

Initially, a police official said one of the agents was cut by the machete but later clarified that she was struck by one of the deputy's bullets. A bystander was also grazed by a bullet, officials said.

During the assault, dozens of bystanders scurried for cover as officials worked to subdue the suspect. No bystanders were seriously hurt -- although some received minor injuries while scrambling to flee, NBC News reported.

The conditions of the TSA officers were not immediately known, but their injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

"They tried tackling him to the ground," witness Calen Bedford said. "And the man with the knife and the TSA agents ran into a metal detector and pushed it over."

The motive for the attack is unknown, although police said White did not have a significant criminal record. Officials said he suffered from some kind of mental illness and that his wife and children had been cooperative with investigators.

The airport was shut down for about 20 minutes after the incident. The suspect apparently lived about a mile away from the airport, the Times-Picayune reported.

"There was a security incident near concourse B of the airport. The site has been secured," Louis Armstrong International Airport said via Twitter.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said on Saturday that the airport had re-opened and was fully operational, and he praised the efforts of security personnel.

"TSA agents, law enforcement officers and airport officials all acted quickly to stop the perpetrator and secure the scene," Landrieu said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with our security officials injured in the line of duty, and we wish them a full and speedy recovery."

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