EXCLUSIVE: Airport attack hero speaks for the first time

Lt. Heather Sylve receives award
Lt. Heather Sylve receives award

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The deputy who shot and killed the man who attacked TSA agents at the Louis Armstrong International airport last week was honored today for her bravery and professionalism.

Lt. Heather Sylve received Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand's Award of Excellence during the 30th Annual Crimestoppers Awards Luncheon.

"It's overwhelming, I'm truly honored and humbled to be able to be here today, I don't know how to explain it, I honestly think it was just truly a gift from God," Sylve said.

Sylve was greeted by the crowd of hundreds of law enforcement officers and supporters with a standing ovation, moving her to tears.

She said she was just minutes from the end of her shift when Richard White attacked the Southwest concourse security checkpoint with a machete and Molotov cocktails.

"All of a sudden I heard a bunch of people yell, 'He has a machete! He has a machete!' Instinctively I rose to my feet, I said, 'Oh my goodness, oh my God,' got up, drew my weapon, positioned it in a safe place, tried to watch to see who the person was that these people said had a machete, as the crowd began to part I noticed someone wielding a machete running after a bunch of agents," Sylve said.

That is when she waited until the last second to pull the trigger as White blitzed the security post.

"When I felt the TSA agent clear me, I stood to the side and fired a shot, and tried to prevent anything from going further besides the perpetrator at hand," Sylve said.

While she's lauded with appreciation from hundreds of people, Sylve isn't forgetting the person who died, while she worked to protect the airport and travelers.

"I have so much compassion for the family, because I can only understand what they're going through, I can't even comprehend, but I'm proud that I'm able to be here today for my own family, but again the compassion is not ever going to cease for the other party, so I'm praying for them and I'm praying for myself as well," Sylve said.

Sylve is a seven year veteran of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.

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