Dramatic footage shows the moment panicked diners flee Philippe Chow in Manhattan amid a shooting over a Rolex watch — an attack that police are now probing as a part of a string of luxury-watch robberies in the Big Apple.
Surveillance camera footage shows two male suspects exit a car and walk toward the upscale Chinese eatery in the Upper East Side Wednesday night before allegedly shooting Melchior Cooke, 31, in the left leg as he dined outside, according to police and sources.
The 10 p.m. shooting itself was not caught on camera.
A group of horrified diners and other bystanders then appear to run from the restaurant after a struggle ensues over the watch and gunfire erupts.
“[One] guy approached him. They obviously knew each other. They got into a scuffle,” said Wayne Lawrence, 50, a regional manager at Il Mulino next door to the restaurant, who saw the attack.
“I just saw him on the floor and there was a lot of blood. He wasn’t even moaning or anything. It just looked like he was about to pass out. I smacked him in the face,” he said.
“I went outside and I saw the kid on the floor … I pulled the sheet off the tablecloth and wrapped it around his legs and tied it tight. My best buddy took his belt off and tied it [on him],” he told The Post. “It was a lot of blood. It ruined my $500 jacket.”
Craig Fournier, who was munching spare ribs three tables away, said Cooke managed to wrestle the gun away from the shooter.
“Glasses were shattering. We saw the victim kinda staggering down the sidewalk, bleeding profusely and [he] collapsed. He threw the gun to the side,” said Fournier.
“People were running, afraid and for safety,” said Fournier, who is a plastic surgeon fellow at Manhattan Eye Ear and Throat Hospital.
“When we saw the victim staggering down the street bleeding profusely, we had to take action,” he said, adding that he helped apply pressure and a tourniquet to his wound.
Cooke, who is the father of a 4-year-old son, was sedated and recovering at a hospital Thursday, his shaken mom, Lisa Cooke, told The Post.
“When I first got the text [about the attack], I was shaking,” she said. “I’m just glad that he didn’t get killed.”
“He is in a lot of pain but he is stable,” she said, adding the bullet exited his leg during the shooting.
Bob Iger, the executive chairman of the Walt Disney Company, and Diane Sawyer had been dining at the hotspot Wednesday night but, like most other guests, left before the shooting, sources said.
Police said a third suspect may have been involved in the Manhattan shooting on Wednesday.
“A black 9mm handgun with a shell casing lodged in the slide was recovered. Thankfully, it was unable to be fired after that first round or else other innocent people could have been injured,” Chief of Detectives James Essig said at a press conference Thursday, noting that cops don’t believe the suspects knew the victim.
“We are currently looking at other familiar similar patterns in the precinct. And we’ll be getting video out and pictures out to the public to ask for their help in this crime.”
The suspects fled after the shooting and were still at large Thursday.
The stick-up is one of at least five robberies — including two others outside Manhattan restaurants — in which thieves snatched luxury watches and other bling in recent months.
On Aug. 14, a 47-year-old man and his 27-year-old friend had just walked out of the trendy TAO Downtown on Ninth Avenue and West 17th Street in Chelsea at around 4 a.m. when they were attacked by thieves that jumped out of a Mercedes-Benz, police said.
One of the crooks pulled a gun and demanded that the victims hand over $4 million worth of jewelry, including a high-end Richard Mille watch, necklaces and rings.
Five days later, a 34-year-old man was leaving the Mediterranean bistro Pergola on West 28th Street and Sixth Avenue in Murray Hill at around 1 a.m, when two men hopped out of a Mercedes-Benz and robbed him at gunpoint, cops said. They allegedly snatched $100,000 worth of bling — including a Audemar watch, a bracelet and necklace.
On June 21, Milton Grant, a 34-year-old father of twins, was shot in the head and stripped of his chain and Rolex after crooks saw him sporting the bling at a Manhattan night club.
A deli customer at Master Deli and Grocery in the Bronx was later beaten by a man who swiped his $750 Rolex watch on June 29.
Police are investigating whether the thefts are part of a pattern, a law enforcement source said Thursday.
Other diners were also robbed of upscale watches and bling in Los Angeles in recent months, including on the upscale Melrose Avenue, according to cops.
Additional reporting by Emily Smith