Sheriff: Airport attacker had machete, Molotov cocktails

Published 10:24 am Monday, March 23, 2015

KENNER, La. — A machete-wielding attacker who died hours after being shot by a sheriff’s deputy who stopped his rampage at New Orleans’ international airport had a bag loaded with Molotov cocktails, authorities say.

Richard White, 63, had been shot Friday night as he chased an unarmed Transportation Security Administration agent through a concourse full of frightened travelers — and in the direction of a sheriff’s deputy, who drew her gun and fired three times. White died Saturday afternoon.

Sheriff Newell Normand said investigators discovered White had been carrying a bag loaded with Molotov cocktails, but had dropped it in the airport. The bag contained six Mason jars with cloth wicks soaked in gasoline and that residue from smoke bombs also was found near White’s body, Normand added.

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“Fortunately, he didn’t seriously injure anybody,” said Normand, speaking Saturday at a news conference at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. He is sheriff of Jefferson Parish, a suburban New Orleans district where the airport is located.

Normand said the situation could have been much worse.

“You know, sometimes, the saying: You’d rather be lucky than good. I think we were both last night to the nth degree,” he said. “I think we did a lot of things right and positive and caused certain things to happen, but by the same token — one second here, one second there — it could have been a much different outcome.”

Investigators are trying to determine the motivations of the man and the man’s family has been cooperating with the investigation, the sheriff said. When discussing the attack, Normand said at the news conference that there was a “mental health component” but didn’t elaborate on any specifics.

White was a Jehovah’s Witness and had refused “certain types of medical care,” Normand said.