The main suspect in the stabbing of two front desk workers at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York on 12 March was arrested today in Philadelphia after a police manhunt that lasted nearly four days.
Gary Cabana, aged 60, was apprehended in a bus station at around 1am Tuesday morning after being spotted sleeping there by security staff. He is believed to have started a fire in his room at a nearby hotel on Monday evening. In footage captured by WTXF-TV, Cabana is seen wearing a Ramones shirt under a plaid jacket and being escorted by police while urging people to “read his Instagram”, though content related to the MoMA incident appears to have been deleted from his page.
Cabana entered the museum in the afternoon on 12 March and had been previously notified in writing that his membership had been revoked due to two prior incidents of disorderly conduct. A surveillance video released by the police department shows him entering through the museum’s cinema entrance on West 53rd Street and jumping over the counter before stabbing two employees and fleeing the scene soon after.
Cabana posted an erratic message on Facebook on 13 March stating that he was blindsided by his ejection from the museum, that he blames a woman named Barbara and that he suffers from bipolar disorder. In a since-deleted comment captured by The Art Newspaper under the same post, Cabana also claimed to be in Florida and threatened to trespass into former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort and home and “go out with the lights”.
In an startling exchange between Cabana and a New York Post reporter, the suspect reiterated that a woman named Barbara conspired to have his museum membership revoked, and claimed that the staff he stabbed “were in on the backstabbing too”, and that he “doesn’t backstab, I do the front side only”. He added that he was upset that he “couldn’t go upstairs to see Starry Starry Night ever again [and] lost it”.
Friends and colleagues of Cabana's told Gothamist that the violent attack came as a complete surprise, but that he had suffered from worsening mental health issues since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The stabbing happened around 4pm on Saturday. Visitors were evacuated from the museum, with some speculating whether there had been a shooting or a bomb.
According to the New York Police Department, Cabana was known to museum staff due to the prior incidents that led to his membership being revoked, but he did not have any previous criminal record. He is said to have resided just ten blocks from the museum in a highly-surveilled area of Manhattan, prompting some to question how he was able to evade arrest for nearly four days.
MoMA reopened today after a two-day closure but provided minimal comments throughout the incident, releasing this statement this morning: “MoMA reopened today and we look forward to welcoming back our members and visitors. We're relieved and grateful that our colleagues are recovering and the attacker was arrested.”
Under New York law, assault with a knife (considered a deadly weapon) in the first degree is a felony offense that, depending on the person’s arrest record, carries a conviction of around two years in prison, up to a $5,000 fine (in addition to parole fees and other charges) and up to $15,000 in restitution to each victim. Threatening a former US president, if the threat can be deemed credible, is a felony punishable by fines and up to five years in prison.