Gary Cabana, 60, was apparently upset that his membership card to the Manhattan museum was expired when he jumped over a reception desk on Saturday and stabbed the two employees in the back, collarbone, and back of the neck, police said.
"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," NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said during a press conference.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
The video released by police shows Cabana – wearing a surgical mask – entering the museum lobby through a revolving door. He then jumps over the counter toward three employees as a man carrying what appears to be a walkie-talkie frantically attempts to throw objects at the assailant.
Cabana repeatedly stabbed two employees behind the desk, both aged 24, who had scrambled for cover while trapped in the small space, the video shows.
After the attack, both victims – a man, and a woman -- and the third person behind the counter managed to escape. The victims were in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital later in the day.
The midtown Manhattan museum evacuated its patrons Saturday afternoon and remained closed on Sunday. Users on social media posted that museum-goers ran for the exits in confusion and chaos after the stabbing.
Yuichi Shimada, who was 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."
Cabana managed to run off after the stabbings. On Sunday morning, police asked the public for help in finding him.
Miller noted that Cabana's membership had been revoked for two separate incidents of disorderly behavior at the museum in recent days.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 added.
"THERE WERE NO DISRUPTIONS. Security NEVER escorted me from MoMA on the 2 ‘supposed’ days I ‘acted up: 2/24 + 3/9. Total blind side when I got ’the letter' from Daniel P," Cabana wrote.
"Words are sharper than knives. Bipolar is a tough road to hoe. Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. THEN U get framed ind 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," Cabana added. "She's the menace, NOT ME."
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.
Fox News' Pilar Arias and the Associated Press contributed to this report.