NEW ORLEANS — An interminable TSA airport line descended into a horror as a man unleashed streams of wasp spray onto scrambling travelers and swung a machete at people before bolting through a security line.
Newly released video — obtained by the New Orleans Advocate — shows the first moments of the March 2015 attack at the city’s airport which ended with the shooting of the machete-wielding man. The attacker later died from three bullet wounds inflicted by a sheriff’s lieutenant.
In the video, the man — identified as Richard White, 63 — is seen at the top of the frame as he calmly walks up to a line of travelers at a TSA checkpoint at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
He pulls a can of wasp spray from a bag and unleashes streams onto travelers as people begin to disperse. The man is then seen pulling a machete from his waistband and swinging its blade at people standing in line.
Moments later, the video shows the man spraying the chemical in the face of a TSA officer before chasing him through a wobbling metal detector and out of camera range.
White died one day after the attack, following treatment for three bullet wounds he suffered when a sheriff’s lieutenant fired at him, officials said. Investigators said he suffered from some type of mental illness.
When White approached the checkpoint, he was carrying a bag that he dropped as soon as he sprayed travelers as well as a security officer, authorities said at the time.
In the bag, investigators found Molotov cocktails.
A grill lighter and plastic letter opener were also found in the bag, and next to his body investigators discovered powdery material and wicks, which they determined were from crushed smoke bombs.
The bomb squad later found more smoke bombs in his car, and in the trunk were three gas tanks — one for Freon, one for oxygen and one for acetylene, a compressed gas used in welding and metal-cutting.
Investigators said the motive for the attack was unclear.
TSA officer Carol Richel, was wounded in the arm by one of the bullets fired at White. The bullet went through her tricep.
“I didn’t hear him say anything,” she said at the time. “Once I yelled for the checkpoint to be cleared, I looked over my shoulder and he was coming after me. And I ran as fast as I could and thank God the officer was as close as she was, because I wouldn’t be here today.”