NEW YORK: A man stabbed two employees inside the Museum of Modern Art in New York on Saturday (Mar 12) 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 two employees were stabbed multiple times and both were in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital later Saturday. People posting accounts to social media said museumgoers ran for the exits in confusion and chaos after the stabbing.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism John Miller said the man's membership was revoked for two separate incidents of disorderly behavior at the museum in recent days. He was being sought.
“He became upset about not being allowed entrance, and then jumped over the reception desk and proceeded to attack and stab two employees of the museum multiple times,” Miller said.
Miller said the employees were stabbed in the back, in the collar bone, in the back of neck and were rushed within minutes to Bellevue.
Miller said police trying to locate the man had access to video of him leaving the museum and were aware of the direction in which he left.
He 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. Miller said the man was a “regular” at the museum, and that the museum had adequate security.
Social media posts on Twitter showed that the midtown Manhattan museum had evacuated its patrons Saturday afternoon. One of the videos posted online showed police vehicles, their emergency lights flashing, thronging the outside of the museum as dozens of patrons hurried away amid a light snowfall.
Law enforcement officials are investigating the attack, and the names of the employees were not immediately released.
Mayor Eric Adams tweeted Saturday evening that he had been briefed on the attack and said the injuries to the two victims were not life-threatening. “We're grateful for the quick work of our first responders," he added.
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 Gaugin.