The man who allegedly stabbed two employees at the Museum of Modern Art on Saturday was a Broadway usher and passionate critic of former President Donald Trump whose recent social media tirades had worried some of his friends, several people who spoke to Gothamist on Sunday said.

Security footage released Sunday showed the enraged suspect, who police identified as 60-year-old Gary Cabana, leaping over the museum counter, cornering two employees and plunging a knife into them as they tried to escape. He fled the building and remained at large Sunday, the NYPD said.

Friends of the suspect who saw the footage, along with social media posts they attributed to him, said they were in disbelief, claiming the behavior did not match the Broadway-loving usher they’d known for decades.

"It wouldn’t have ever occurred to me that he might lash out," said Tara Varney, who said she studied theater with Cabana at Missouri State University in Springfield, and had remained close to him.

Varney and other friends said that Cabana had a history of mental illness, which appeared to worsen during the pandemic. A public Facebook post shared on an account that three friends said belongs to Cabana called the stabbing a “total frame job,” while seeming to acknowledge that he had previous altercations at the museum.

“Bipolar is a tough road to hoe,” one of those posts from Sunday read. “Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde on the 2 ‘supposed’ days I ‘acted up: 2/24 +. 3/9. Total blind side when I got ‘the letter,’” an apparent reference to the letter revoking his MoMA membership.

It continued: “It wasn't SCREAM 6 at MoMA it was poke poke poke wake-up call.”

Multiple people close to Cabana said they noticed a shift in his social media presence at the start of the pandemic, as his musings shifted from critiquing films to posts filled with anger directed at tourists who did not follow COVID protocols, as well as Trump, whose leadership Cabana said allowed the pandemic to worsen.

“His politics are liberal,” Varney said. “He’d get more worked up about them than I would choose to.”

Police released images of the suspect, identified as 60-year-old Gary Cabana, who remained at large Sunday evening.

Police released images of the suspect, identified as 60-year-old Gary Cabana, who remained at large Sunday evening.

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Police released images of the suspect, identified as 60-year-old Gary Cabana, who remained at large Sunday evening.
NYPD

Wes Bourland, a musician, said that Cabana was a regular at Feinstein’s/54 Below, a cabaret bar on West 54th Street that Bourland often performs at.

“He was a big theater fan,” Bourland said. “Had tons of pictures of him with actors.”

Recently, Bourland said, Cabana had been sharing conspiracies and other social media posts that verged on harassment – including against bar employees he accused of wronging him.

“There are stories about this guy all over the theater community,” Bourland added.

Friends also said that Cabana lived alone in Manhattan and had little contact with the outside world. When the pandemic began in 2020, it was an experience of personal loss for Cabana, who lost his livelihood working as an usher on Broadway when theaters shut down across the city, Varney said.

“He would get really frustrated with people who wouldn't mask and didn’t get vaccinated and stuff,” Varney said. “He loved being an usher. He was ushering for a long time and he would talk about the shows and everything.”

Anna Blair, an actor and singer who said she knew Cabana in college, recalled his “support group” of friends who had looked out for him in the past.

“COVID hit him hard as far as loneliness,” Blair said. “Nobody was able to visit him.”

Cabana had come to the museum on Saturday to watch a film, but was turned away by employees because his membership had been revoked “as a result of two incidents involving disorderly conduct here at the museum on two separate dates in recent days,” according to NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller. Both victims, a 24-year-old man and 24-year-old woman who worked at the museum, were expected to survive, officials said.

At a press conference on Monday, Mayor Eric Adams said he was praying for the victims, and vowed to catch the alleged assailant.

“We know who he is, and the police department will apprehend him,” Adams said.