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Man angry at girlfriend breaks into Dallas Museum of Art, does $5.2 million in damage, police say

Officials said he was seen on video walking from room to room, smashing display cases and the items inside and destroying artifacts.
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DALLAS — A man who said he was angry at his girlfriend broke into the Dallas Museum of Art on Wednesday and caused more than $5 million in damage to artifacts and other property, according to a police document.

Dallas police said they arrested Brian Hernandez, 21, on Wednesday night.

Security video showed Hernandez outside the museum’s front entrance with a metal chair in hand about 9:40 p.m. Shortly after, he is seen on video in the museum, walking from room to room, smashing display cases and the items inside, according to a Dallas police arrest sheet.

After he punched a case multiple times, Hernandez grabbed a metal stool and shattered the glass and two pieces within it — a sixth century Greek amphora and a pot dating to 450 B.C., according to the police document. The two items combined were valued at about $5 million, the document says.

He also smashed a case and destroyed a "Kylix Herakles and Nemeon Lion" statue, valued at about $100,000, according to police.

“The items inside of the display cases that were destroyed are rare ancient artifacts that are extremely precious and one of a kind,” the arrest sheet states.

Hernandez continued through the museum and used a hand sanitizer stand to shatter the case containing a statue of the "Batah Kuhuh Alligator Gar Fish" valued at $10,000, which he then picked up and slammed to the ground, breaking it to pieces, the sheet says.

Hernandez was also seen on security camera video destroying other property, including a laptop, a phone, a monitor, two wooden display signs and four plexiglass display cases, police said.

Security soon found Hernandez and told him to sit on a bench while they called police.

Hernandez told a guard he “got mad at his girl so he broke in and started destroying property,” the document says.

He was taken into custody and confessed during an interview with a detective, according to the document.

Kenneth Bennett, the museum’s director of security and operations, said the total damage was estimated at $5.2 million, which could change pending a final assessment by the museum’s curator and insurance, according to the police document.

“This was an isolated incident perpetrated by one individual acting alone, whose intent was not theft of art or any objects on view at the Museum,” the museum said in a written statement. “However, some works of art were damaged, and we are still in the process of assessing the extent of the damages.”

Hernandez was not armed, the museum said.

“While we are devastated by this incident, we are grateful that no one was harmed,” the museum said.

Hernandez was booked into the Dallas County Jail on a charge of criminal mischief of greater than or equal to $300,000. His bail has been set at $100,000, according to jail records.

County records did not list an attorney who could speak on Hernandez’s behalf.