Alison Russo-Elling was the FDNY EMS Lieutenant who was killed in the line of duty when she was fatally stabbed in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens yesterday, Thursday, September 29, 2022, according to the New York City Fire Department. She was 61. Peter Zisopoulos was arrested in her murder.
Russo-Elling was a Long Island resident, a mom and a grandma, according to the FDNY.
ABC 7 News reported the stabbing occurred near the intersection of 20th Avenue and Steinway Street in Astoria at about 2:15 p.m. Russo was leaving the FDNY EMS Station 49 for lunch while on duty when she was stabbed in an unprovoked attack, police said. The suspect brandished a knife and stabbed her “numerous times,” ABC 7 reported. Read more about the suspect and the murder here.
Russso was rushed to Mount Sinai Queens Hospital, where she later died, ABC 7 reported.
The suspect fled the scene and barricaded himself inside his residence, officials said in a press conference. He is now in police custody, officials said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Russo-Elling Was a 25-Year Veteran of FDNY EMS & a 9/11 Responder
Russo had been with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) for 25 years when she was killed outside the station, officials said during a press conference.
“We lost one of our heroes. She provided a service to the city for over 24 years, her assailant has been apprehended and will be held accountable for his actions,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said during the news conference.
ABC 7 News reported that as word spread of Russo’s death, other FDNY EMS members gathered outside the hospital to show support for one another and grief the loss.
“There was an outpouring of emotion and sympathy outside the hospital,” ABC 7 News reported.
Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh and an FDNY chaplain led a prayer circle outside the hospital, the news station said.
“There were a lot of tears and hugs,” the news station said.
The FDNY wrote in a tribute post on Instagram she joined the FDNY as an EMT in March 1998. She was promoted to paramedic in 2002, and rose to the rank of lieutenant in 2016. She also had a daughter, the post said.
Russo-Elling was among the first responders at the World Trade Center September 11, 2001, and aided in both rescue and recovery efforts, the FDNY said.
2. Russo-Elling Was a Mother & Grandmother Who Was Considered the ‘Mother Hen’ of the Ambulance Station
The Daily News reported Russo-Elling was a mother and a grandmother, and she was beloved at her ambulance station where they considered her a “mother hen.”
“A senseless, heinous, brutal murder,” said FDNY EMS Deputy Chief Gregg Brady outside EMS Station 49, according to the Daily News. “She was a mother, daughter and friend. We are heartbroken and we are standing by each other. May she never be forgotten.”
Her EMS community gathered outside the Queens station to grieve and remember their slain colleague, according to the Daily News.
“Heartbroken colleagues of a slain FDNY EMS veteran gathered beneath mourning bunting outside their Queens station Friday, one day after she was stabbed to death on a nearby sidewalk in a barbaric and unprovoked attack,” the Daily News reported.
3. Russo-Elling Was Preparing for Her Retirement
Russo-Elling was a Long Island resident, a mother and a grandmother who was nearing her retirement, according to the FDNY.
Her funeral arrangements are still being finalized, but her EMS colleagues and police officers gathered to remember her Friday, September 30, 2022, according to the Daily News.
“Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics, joined by city police officers, stood silently in five-deep rows as tears flowed and hugs were shared for the 24-year veteran who planned to retire in the coming months. Russo was also a 9/11 first responder, according to the FDNY,” the Daily News reported.
4. The Suspect Was Taken Into Custody Following a Discussion With Hostage Negotiators
Officials said during the news conference that Zisopoulos was taken into custody and charged with murder and possession of a weapon. He fled after the stabbing and barricaded himself in the third floor of his home at 19-80 and 41st Street, officials said.
He gave himself up to authorities following discussions with the hostage negotiating team and emergency service unit, officials said.
Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said in the news conference that Russo-Elling was killed “in a barbaric and completely unprovoked attack.” Kavanagh said Russo-Elling was walking to get food when she was attacked.
“Members of EMS serve only to help and save other people’s lives,” Kavanagh said in the news conference. “To be attacked in the course of helping others is both heartbreaking and enraging for our department in ways I cannot describe.”
5. Russo-Elling Was a Decorated Veteran in EMS
Russo-Elling had received commendations for her work in emergency medical services, officials said during the news conference.
“She was cited multiple times for her bravery and her lifesaving work and she was absolutely beloved on this job,” Kavanagh said. “She is the 1,158th member of the FDNY to die in the line of duty and the second member of EMS to die in the line of duty in the last five years.”
Adams said in the news conference Zisopoulos “will be held accountable.”
“She will be dearly missed by everyone, but her legacy will live within our hearts forever,” said a Facebook post from her colleagues at the Huntington Community First Aid Squad.