By MARINA VILLENUEVE and BRYAN GALLION , NEW YORK Mar 13 , (AP) — A man stabbed two employees multiple times inside the Museum of Modern Art in New York on Saturday afternoon, leaping over a reception desk to attack them after he was denied entrance for previous incidents of disorderly conduct, authorities said.
Police said the victims, a 24-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, were in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital later Saturday. Their names weren’t immediately released. People posted on social media that museumgoers ran for the exits in confusion and chaos after the stabbing.
John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said the man’s membership had been revoked for two separate incidents of disorderly behavior at the museum in recent days.
A letter informing the suspect of his expired membership had been sent out Friday, but he came to the museum Saturday saying he intended to see a film there, Miller said.
He then became upset and stabbed the museum employees in the back, collar bone and the back of neck, Miller said. They were rushed within minutes to the hospital.
Miller said video showed which way the suspect went after leaving the museum. Police shared photos of the attacker late Saturday night, asking for the public’s help finding him.
Miller did not identify the man by name but described him as a white male wearing a black jacket, blue surgical mask, a colorfully patterned shirt and hood. He said the man was a “regular” at the museum, and that the building had adequate security.
The department has no record of a previous arrest for the man.
The museum didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the incident, but said on social media that it would be closed to the public Sunday.
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.”
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.
Mayor 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 New York City police 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.