The innocent bystander who was shot Tuesday night after being caught in the crossfire in East Harlem is an Army veteran who was shielding children on the sidewalk with a pal when he was struck.

Wilbert Grier, 59, was hit once in the upper torso amid the gunfire that erupted during a feud between two groups of young men near a deli on Fifth Avenue and East 118th Street.

Speaking from his apartment on Wednesday night, Grier said “the adrenaline kicked in” — and his first instinct was to protect the youngsters playing outside when the bullets started flying.

“We had to shield the kids, because they were shooting this way,” he said. “We had kids playing [outside] and then we had kids inside the store.”

“I knew I was hit, but I knew that I might have to take another one, for the kids,” he said.

After he was shot, Grier said he and a deli worker retreated into the store and locked the door.

He was later taken to to Harlem Hospital and is expected to recover.

Police on Wednesday said they arrested Jabari Albright, 18, in connection to the shooting and charged him with attempted murder.

Surveillance footage obtained by The Post shows a gunman open fire on the sidewalk, aiming across the street, as a group of people flee down the street behind him.