New audio from a 911 call indicates that the man who allegedly broke into the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) and destroyed millions of dollars worth of art last summer called the police on himself, and security guards were unaware he was even in the building.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, Brian Hernandez, 21, allegedly used a chair to smash through the glass at the building’s front entrance around 9:40 p.m. on June 1. After gaining entry, he reportedly destroyed multiple display cases housing various artworks and artifacts. The value of the destroyed works was estimated to be more than $5 million.
Initial accounts of the incident stated that Hernandez set off a motion detector, alerting security guards to his presence. However, the newly released 911 call suggests that Dallas police dispatch notified DMA guards of the intruder, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“Hey, I’m in the Dallas Museum of Art. Come get me,” said Hernandez, speaking with a police dispatcher roughly 15 minutes after he entered the building.
While inside, he reportedly used a stool to smash open at least two display cases and destroy four rare cultural artifacts, including three ancient Greek pieces — a vase, a box, and a drinking cup. The fourth item was a Caddo alligator gar effigy bottle.
The sound of the disturbance managed to escape the security guards’ attention.
Security expert John Barelli told the DMN that he was astonished by the revelation that Hernandez called the police on himself.
“My initial reaction is, the museum is lucky that he didn’t do more damage. … They obviously had a security system that was not functioning,” said Barelli.
Robert Edsel, founder and chairman of the Monuments Men and Women Foundation, stated, “I’m shocked, and I’m very disappointed. I’m as bothered by the lack of transparency by museum leadership as I am the revelation about the alarm system apparently not functioning at all.”
Responding to news of the 911 call, DMA issued a statement:
“As stated in our message to the community in June, we have continued to spend a tremendous amount of time and resources reflecting on and assessing the circumstances surrounding the break-in on June 1.
“In recognition of the need to take serious action as soon as possible, we committed to hire a third-party consulting firm at that time to review and assess our security measures and facilities. This decision was made to ensure we rely on industry best practices to deter and mitigate similar situations moving forward.”
Hernandez was arrested and charged with “criminal mischief of more than or equal to $300,000.” He is currently being held in county jail with bail set at $100,000.