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TSA agent attacked with machete at New Orleans airport

Posted at 10:59 PM, Mar 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-21 01:01:20-04

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Armed with a machete and wasp spray, a 63-year-old man stormed through two security checkpoints at Louis Armstrong International Airport near New Orleans on Friday night before being shot three times by a law enforcement officer, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said.

The suspect, Richard White, was taken to a hospital, where authorities said he was unresponsive.

The incident began when White sprayed a Transportation Security Administration officer who was checking boarding passes with wasp spray, according to Normand. He quickly encountered two more TSA officers. He sprayed a second officer with the bug poison and slashed a third with the machete.

The second officer then grabbed a piece of luggage to defend himself as White chased him through a security checkpoint metal detector.

At that point a Jefferson Parish deputy opened fire, hitting White in the face, chest and thigh.

"We don't know what the motivation is," Normand said. "It is still early. We're still running that out in order to try and determine anything about this particular individual."

It wasn't immediately clear why White was at the airport, although he was a taxi driver and had recently received his chauffeur license.

White has little criminal history, according to Normand. He said White had some disturbing the peace charges and some traffic tickets.

There's nothing to indicate that the incident posed any sort of national security threat, Normand said.

The officer who was slashed with the machete is being treated at a hospital with non-life threatening injures, according to the TSA.

Several bystanders received minor injuries. Some ran into furniture, scrambling to get out of the way. One person was grazed in the arm by a bullet, Normand said.