Editor’s Note – It is not known what made Richard White turn from a mild-mannered Jehovah’s Witness into a machete wielding mad mad with bombs at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport TSA screening point on Concourse B. But since being shot, he succembed to his wounds late this afternoon.
Richard White, the Kenner man accused of the Friday night (March 20) machete attack on a security checkpoint at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, died Saturday at 4:02 p.m., the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office announced.
White, 63, was shot three times by JPSO Lt. Heather Sylve, stopping him as he chased TSA agent Carroll Richel with a machete nearl the Concourse B checkpoint. Sylve was hailed as a hero at Saturday’s news conference by Richel, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. (NOLA)
Accused airport attacker was ‘so meek, so mild,’ former neighbor says
Richard White, the man authorities said stormed a passenger security line Friday night (March 20) at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport armed with insect spray and a machete, was described as devout and gentle man by a former neighbor who spoke with him only last week.
“He was so meek, so mild,” said Donna Jackson, a friend and former neighbor of White and his wife. “To hear this was Richard White … I’m flabbergasted.”
According to Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, White charged past Transportation Safety Administration agents in Concourse B, spraying insecticide into their eyes and brandishing a machete just before 8 p.m. JPSO Lt. Heather Sylve, who was stationed at the security checkpoint, opened fire, apparently striking White three times but also shooting a female TSA agent in the arm and grazing a male traveler.
White, five days shy of his 64th birthday, was “unresponsive” when taken to a nearby hospital and remained in surgery late Friday night, Normand said.
Authorities reported White’s last known address as a single-story brick home in the 1600 block of Taylor Street in Kenner, about 2.2 miles from the airport. But Jackson, who lives on that street, said White and his wife were only renting there, and moved out more than a year ago when their landlord sold the house to a new owner.
She said the Whites loved the neighborhood, however, and only moved a couple blocks away to another home in Kenner.
Jackson said White was a former Army serviceman, long since retired and living off Social Security and disability checks. He also 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.
Jackson said the Whites attend the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses near the airport at 301 Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Kenner.
“I’m shocked,” Jackson said. “I had just seen him over here at the Walmart a week ago Wednesday. We talked about a half-hour, 45 minutes. He said him and his wife were doing fine. I didn’t detect that anything was going wrong.”
Authorities have not offered a motive for White’s conduct at the airport. And Jackson, who knew the couple for some time, could not imagine what would have prompted his attack on the security agents.
“He was always very nice, a very good neighbor,” she said. “He would do everything you asked him to. I don’t know why he would’ve snapped like that.”