Suspect in NYC MoMA stabbing arrested in Philadelphia after reported arson

NYPD video appeared to show the man jumping over a desk at the museum before stabbing 2 employees
NEW YORK -- The man accused of stabbing two people at New York's Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, was taken into custody sleeping on a bench at a Greyhound bus terminal in Philadelphia as law enforcement officials were closing in on him for a fire at a nearby hotel.

The fire, police say, was set by a man resembling the 60-year-old MoMA stabbing suspect, who checked into the Best Western Plus hotel Saturday under the name of Joseph Cabana.

Firefighters responded to the arson at about 6 p.m. Monday.

Philadelphia police checked the name of the occupant and surveillance video and realized it matched MoMA stabbing suspect Gary Cabana.

They searched known homeless locations and found Cabana sleeping on a bench at the Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal early Tuesday morning.

Cabana uses the name "Gary Joe Cabana" on his social media.

Philadelphia police said they were told Cabana "was also suicidal and was suffering from some mental health issues. We realized he was possibly armed and very dangerous."

He was arrested without incident.

Charges are pending in the Philadelphia hotel arson.

Cabana will also face charges for the museum double stabbing following extradition to New York.

The Museum of Modern Art planned to reopen Tuesday in the wake of Saturday's attack.

In that incident, police say Cabana jumped over the museum's front desk and stabbed two workers as they tried to flee Saturday.

Video released by the NYPD showed Cabana as he entered the museum lobby through a revolving door and suddenly climbed onto the desk, jumping over it as a man carrying what appears to be a walkie-talkie tried in vain to stop him.

The suspect, wearing a black wool hat and a surgical mask, approached three employees who were trapped in the small space and police said he then stabbed one of them, a young woman who was able to run away seconds later, though not before she was stabbed again in the back.

The attacker then stabbed a second employee as the man with the walkie-talkie hurled a notebook at him. That appeared to distract the attacker long enough for the second victim to flee.

The third employee was seen getting up from the ground after the attacker ran away.

Investigators believe Cabana was angry that the museum had revoked his membership the day before.

According to police, Cabana was denied entrance Saturday for previous incidents of disorderly conduct.

John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said his membership had been revoked for two separate incidents of disorderly behavior at the museum in recent days.

Cabana, or someone claiming to be him, had been active on social media, denying the allegations while admitting to being bi-polar.

"Bipolar is a tough road to hoe," the person wrote. "Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. THEN U get framed ind (sic) 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."

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.

The victims are expected to recover.

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.

If you feel suicidal or you're worried about someone you know, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by messaging TALK to 741741.

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(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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