Airport machete suspect was battling mental, physical demons

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A sister of 63-year-old Richard White, the Kenner man who was shot at Louis Armstrong International Airport Friday after allegedly spraying TSA agents with bug spray and chasing an agent with a machete, said he was battling a potentially deadly disease and had been distraught and depressed for a while.

Meanwhile, FOX 8 News obtained information on White's professional driving career, which included transporting air travelers.

White died Saturday of the gunshot wounds. His family said he was a Jehovah's Witness. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said White refused some of the treatment at the hospital before his death.

It was later discovered that White was carrying homemade explosives while inside the airport, according to authorities.

White's actions continue to baffle those who knew him.

"Yeah, very familiar, very nice guy, cool person, you know. [He] Never had a problem with anybody," said Beneche Rene', a 25-year cab driver who knew White.

Rene' spoke of White as he stood in a busy cab lot across from the airport Monday.

White's sister, Barbara Suggs, told FOX 8 News that her family is crushed. She said her brother was dealing with a potentially deadly disease and had been very depressed - to the point of stating he felt like someone was out to kill him. But she stressed that he never talked about trying to hurt anyone else.

"Very surprising," said another cabbie, Duvaldo Atubel.

State Police told FOX 8 News that White was issued a chauffeur's license in December 2012 by the Office of Motor Vehicles and that no psychological tests are needed for such a license.

New Orleans City Hall confirmed that from Oct 5, 2004, to March 25, 2006, White had a New Orleans CPNC, or operator's license. The city of Kenner and Jefferson Parish government said there was no record of White having taxi driving permits or licenses from those jurisdictions.

White's sister said he had been retired from driving taxis for years. Still, cabdrivers serving the airport said White would visit the lot.

"He always passed by, talk to us on the lot, you know, always," said Rene'.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said White had Molotov cocktails in a bag he brought to the airport.

"We brought the bomb squad in and we processed the bag, and what we found inside of the bag were six pint-sized mason jars with gasoline inside," said the sheriff.

Normand said clearly the situation could have been much worse. A TSA agent suffered a graze wound when White was shot and some passengers suffered scrapes and bruises during the chaos.

"We were lucky, the TSA agent that threw an item at him caused him to drop the bag, and then he separated himself from the bag, and obviously and as the story goes he was never able to get back to it, and possibly wreak havoc even more so on the concourse with that accelerant," said Normand.

Cabbies said they only knew White to be kind and did not witness a display of weird behavior.

"Something probably happened to his mind, you know. Never, never, never had a problem with anybody on this lot," said Rene'.

White's sister said despite her brother's mental issues, he was loving and kind. She said adding to her heartbreak is the fact that she will never get answers from him on what could have prompted the mayhem authorities allege he was responsible for at Armstrong Airport.

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