Suspected subway gunman Frank James cried like a baby in an East Village pizza joint the morning after his alleged killing spree and amid police feverish manhunt, according to a restaurant worker.
Gentrid Hasangjekaj, 21, an employee of Stromboli Pizza, told the Post he was working 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 goes by as James recognizes, entered – distraught, tearful-eyed and seeking help.
James had allegedly fired smoke grenades and then a barrage on a train in Brooklyn just 18 hours earlier, injuring 29 people, including 10 who were shot dead.
“He cried like a little baby,” Hasangjekaj said.
The worker said he was not aware at the time that the distraught man was the same person wanted in connection with the horrific underground attack, but later saw a photograph that confirmed it was James acted.
“He’s like, ‘Oh, I lost my family,’ this and that, and I felt bad. I thought, “Anyway, 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 are you from? How long have you been lost?’ He did not say anything. It was like he didn’t hear what I asked him.”
James did not eat or order food, the worker said. The suspect left after about 30 minutes, Hasangjekaj said.
The worker said before James entered the pizzeria, 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 his phone to James, but the suspect soon entered Stromboli and asked Hasangjekaj for his phone, the worker said.
Hasangjekaj said he gave his phone to James, who then used it to call a number in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which is listed as owned by a man and a woman. James claimed the woman was his wife, Hasangjekaj said. The number is now disconnected.
Police told The Post on Saturday they were aware of the reported encounter at a pizza shop and would be investigating.
“We are aware of the information and the force will investigate,” a police source said.
Hasangjekaj said James also tried to reach the woman he was calling on Facebook Messenger. The woman did not respond to James’ efforts to reach her at the store, the worker said.
James, 62, is charged with the shocking shooting aboard the N train bound for Manhattan around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Police officers said he entered a Park Slope F train station in Brooklyn about 45 minutes later, sparking a frenetic citywide manhunt for fear he might attack again.
The loner was apparently hiding in plain sight.
James was an interesting person but had not yet been named as a suspect when he tearfully entered Stromboli Pizza.
Hasangjekaj said James is about 6 feet tall, much taller than the 5 feet 5 inches the shooting suspect was attributed in initial reports.
After exiting the pizzeria, the distraught man, who has a history of spewing racial hatred, was not seen again until 10:30am on Wednesday when a member of the public spotted him near Canal and Ludlow streets, according to police. A photograph showed him sitting outside near a pantry around this time, staring into space.
James then headed back north toward the pizzeria but stopped at a McDonald’s on First Avenue and East Sixth Street, police said.
The suspect called Crime Stoppers to get in touch sometime before 1:30 p.m. but left before officers arrived.
Rob Rossi told the Post on Saturday that he was sitting in the International Bar on First Avenue at East Sixth Street around 1pm on Wednesday when James opened the door and took a few steps into the pub.
“He said, ‘Do you guys have a phone charger?'” said Rossi, 49. “Now it makes sense that he wanted 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 was around 6ft tall, not the 5-5 of the early reports.
Surveillance footage from the International shows a man who looks like James walking by the front door at 12:39pm Wednesday
Police finally tracked down the suspect at 1:42 p.m. Wednesday, walked a few steps from the pizzeria and took him into custody.
A colleague from Stromboli Pizza texted Hasangjekaj and said the distraught man at the pizza shop was the same person who was shot on the subway in Brooklyn, according to police.
When The Post showed Hasangjekaj a photo of James, he confirmed it was the same guy.
“I’m talking to the guy who shot ten people. I’m surprised. It’s like ‘Wow. It’s crazy,'” Hasangjekaj said.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/16/accused-brooklyn-shooter-frank-james-cried-during-manhunt-pizza-worker/ The accused Brooklyn shooter, Frank James, shouted during the manhunt: Pizza workers