Two employees working at The Museum of Modern Art were stabbed Saturday afternoon, prompting an evacuation of the midtown Manhattan museum and a search for the suspected attacker.
NYPD investigators say they know who the suspect is: a 60-year-old man and former member of the museum. He's accused of trying to gain access to the museum to see a film but was denied because his membership had been revoked a day earlier for repeat disturbances, officials said at a police press conference.
After the man wasn't allowed past the museum entrance, police said he jumped over the reception desk and stabbed two female employees multiple times. The incident unfolded around 4:15 p.m. ET.
Emergency personnel transported the two victims to Bellevue Hospital where they were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police and fire officials said.
The man was seen on video leaving the building and police know which direction he was fleeing. He's also described by police as a museum regular, someone who staff was familiar with. They also said he was wearing a black jacket and a blue surgical mask.
Videos posted to social media showed dozens of people leaving the museum as officials moved in to take control of the scene.
The museum was full of visitors during Saturday's late winter snowstorm when the attack happened. Among those inside was David Dujerko, who was visiting from Chicago.
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"Suddenly they said 'the museum's closed' and people started running. Little panic on the escalators and then they started shouting 'get out, get out for your own safety,'" Dujerko said.
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.
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.
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.