Suspected subway shooter Frank James cried like a baby at an East Village pizzeria the morning after his alleged rampage and amid cops’ frenzied manhunt for him, according to an eatery worker.
Stromboli Pizza employee Gentrid Hasangjekaj, 21, told The Post he was toiling at the restaurant at 83 St. Marks Place on the corner of First Avenue in Manhattan around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday when a man he now recognizes as James entered — distraught, teary-eyed and seeking help.
James had allegedly unleashed smoke grenades and then a barrage of gunfire on a train in Brooklyn just 18 hours earlier, wounding 29 people, including 10 who were shot.
“He was crying like a little baby,” Hasangjekaj said.
The worker said he was unaware at the time that the distraught man was the same figure wanted in connection with the terrifying underground attack but later saw a photo confirming it had been James.
“He says, ‘Oh, I lost my family,’ this and that, and I felt bad. I thought, ‘Whatever, let me help.’ I didn’t know who he was. I gave him water. I gave him napkins,” Hasangjekaj said of the suspect.
“I asked him three times, ‘Where you from? How long you been lost?’ He didn’t say nothing. It was like he wasn’t hearing what I was asking him.”
James did not eat nor did he order food, the employee said. The suspect left after about 30 minutes, Hasangjekaj said.
The worker said that before James entered the pizza joint, the suspect told four men eating slices outside that he was blind and asked if he could borrow one of their phones.
It’s unclear if any of the men handed over their phone to James, but the suspect soon entered Stromboli and asked Hasangjekaj for his phone, the employee said.
Hasangjekaj said he gave his phone to James, who then used it to call a number in Virginia Beach, Va., listed as belonging to a man and woman. James claimed the woman was his wife, Hasangjekaj said. The number is now disconnected.
Police told The Post on Saturday that they know of the reported pizza-shop encounter and that they will be following up on it.
“We’re aware of the information, and the squad will be investigating,” a police source said.
Hasangjekaj said James also tried to reach the woman he called by going through Facebook messenger. The woman did not respond to any of James’ efforts to reach her while in the store, the worker said.
James, 62, is accused of the shocking shooting aboard the Manhattan-bound N train at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Cops have said he entered a Park Slope F train station in Brooklyn about 45 minutes later, igniting a frenetic citywide manhunt amid fears he might attack again.
The loner was apparently hiding in plain sight.
James was a person of interest but had not yet been named a suspect when he walked into Stromboli Pizza in tears.
Hasangjekaj said James stands about 6 feet in height, much taller than the 5-feet, 5-inches attributed to the shooting suspect in initial reports.
After leaving the pizza shop, the disturbed man, who has a history of spewing racist hate, was not reported seen again until 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, when a member of the public spotted him near Canal and Ludlow streets, according to cops. A photo captured him sitting near an outdoor dining shed around this time, staring off into space.
James then went back north in the direction of the pizzeria but stopped at a McDonald’s on First Avenue and East Sixth Street, police have said.
The suspect called Crime Stoppers to turn himself in sometime before 1:30 p.m. but left before officers arrived.
Rob Rossi told The Post on Saturday that he was sitting inside the International Bar on First Avenue at East Sixth Street around 1 p.m. Wednesday when James opened the door to the pub.
“He said, ‘Do you guys have a phone charger?” said Rossi, 49. “Now it makes sense he was looking to turn himself in. One of the guys was outside and said, ‘Look, there’s no phone charger here’ and the guy left. That was our encounter with him.”
Rossi also said James stands about 6 feet tall, not the 5-5 of early reports.
Surveillance footage from the International shows a man who looks like James walking by its front door Wednesday at 12:39 p.m.
Police finally tracked the suspect down at 1:42 p.m. Wednesday, steps away from the pizza shop, and took him into custody.
A Stromboli Pizza coworker texted Hasangjekaj, saying the despondent man in the pizza shop was the same person police say shot up the subway train in Brooklyn.
Hasangjekaj, when shown a photo of James by The Post, confirmed it was the same guy.
“I’m talking to the guy who shot 10 people. I’m surprised. It’s, like, ‘Wow. It’s crazy,’ ” Hasangjekaj said.