Police say 60-year-old Gary Cabana jumped over the museum’s front desk and stabbed the two workers as they tried to flee Saturday.
Video released by the NYPD shows Cabana entering the museum lobby through a revolving door then climbing onto the desk and jumping over it as a man carrying what appears to be a walkie-talkie tries in vain to stop him.
The man, wearing a black wool hat and a surgical mask, approaches three employees who are trapped in the small space and stabs one of them – a young woman who is able to run away seconds later – though not before she is stabbed again in the back.
The attacker then stabs the second employee as the man with the walkie-talkie hurls a notebook at him. That appears to distract the attacker long enough for the second victim to flee.
The third employee can be seen getting up from the ground after the attacker runs away.
WATCH: Police hold update on stabbing at MoMA
Investigators believe Cabana was angry that the museum had revoked his membership the day before.
According to police, Cabana was denied entrance Saturday for previous incidents of disorderly conduct.
John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said his separate membership had been revoked for two incidents of disorderly behavior at the museum in recent days.
Cabana or someone claiming to be him has been active on social media, denying the allegations while admitting to being bi-polar.
“Bipolar is a tough road to hoe,” the person wrote. “Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. THEN U get framed ind (sic) evicted from MoMA (not just the movies, ALL THE ART too) by a bitter old woman who shushes U when U LAUGH during a comedy.”
Police have fanned out across the city, at train terminals and bus terminals, and on Monday, they converged on a church in Midtown Manhattan just steps from Penn Station after reports the suspect may have been spotted.
The church, St. Francis of Assisi — which opens its doors to the homeless — was searched room by room by police officers in body armor, but the search came up empty.
“He’s all over, so he’s making statements now,” former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “We’ll figure out a way to track him due to that. So he has the ability to do it. We’ll find out where it’s coming from, and we’ll make the arrest. It’s just a matter of time. He may have a friend somewhere to say they stay with. Sooner or later, he’s going to make a mistake.”
The midtown Manhattan museum evacuated its patrons Saturday afternoon. Yuichi Shimada, a museumgoer present at the time of the attack, tweeted he was on the second floor when a couple suddenly came running toward him, and he heard security guards’ radios throughout the museum loudly announcing something at the same time.
“It was chaotic, partly because it was snowing, with a group of young women in a panic and crying,” Shimada said. “Not being good with claustrophobia myself, I headed for the exit early.”
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Shimada was diverted to the side on his way out as a stretcher was hurriedly brought in. Police vehicles and ambulances, emergency lights flashing, thronged outside the museum as dozens of patrons hurried away.
Major Eric Adams tweeted Saturday evening he’d been briefed on the attack and said the victims’ injuries were not life-threatening.
“We’re grateful for the quick work of our first responders,” Adams, a former NYPD captain, said.
MoMA, founded in 1929, is one of New York City’s top tourist attractions, and drew more than 700,000 visitors in 2020. Its collection of modern art includes “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh and works by Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism