A 25-year veteran EMS worker with the FDNY was brutally stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack. The suspect was later arrested following a standoff in New York City.
FDNY EMT Lt. Alison Russo-Elling was on duty and walking near her station house by 20th Avenue and 41st Street around 2:20 p.m. on Thursday. A gruesome video shows a man lunging at Russo-Elling with a knife. She is slammed to the ground, bashing her head on the sidewalk. The madman stabbed her 19 times in Astoria, Queens.
The New York Post reported, "A witness confronted the madman, but he snarled, 'F*** you, f*** you!' before stepping away from his victim and charging at the scooter-riding pedestrian while still holding the knife, police sources said."
The 61-year-old EMT suffered fatal stab wounds to the chest. Russo-Elling was rushed to Mount Sinai Queens Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Russo-Elling was killed on the job just six months before she was set to retire. She reportedly planned to spend more time with her daughter and grandchildren after retirement.
The barbaric attacker fled the crime scene.
A Good Samaritan chased the suspect back to his home – where he barricaded himself in his nearby apartment. Hostage negotiators were able to talk him out of the third-floor apartment, and he was arrested.
An FDNY source told the New York Post, "At this point in the investigation there doesn’t appear to have been any prior contact between them. He just walked toward her, sped up, and then stabbed her to death."
A security camera at a local business caught the savage stabbing on video. The business owner turned over the video to the NYPD.
The business owner told WCBS-TV, "It was totally unprovoked. There was no rhyme or reason. There was no back and forth."
The anonymous business owner said he had previously seen the suspect wandering around the neighborhood aimlessly. He added that the suspect looked "unhinged" and "like he was on another planet."
A local resident said she had seen the suspect in the neighborhood before the knife attack and referred to him as "the crazy guy."
Police charged Peter Zisopoulous in the deadly stabbing attack. The 34-year-old faces charges of second-degree murder and possession of a weapon.
In April 2018, Zisopoulous allegedly made anti-Asian threats on Facebook and was taken to the Elmhurst Hospital for being emotionally disturbed and suffering a serious mental health issue at the time, according to the New York Post.
Tributes poured in for Russo-Elling – who was a first responder at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and assisted in the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11.
FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said, "While outside her station she was stabbed multiple times in a barbaric and completely unprovoked attack. Members of EMS serve only to help and save other people’s lives. To be attacked and killed in the course of helping others is both heartbreaking and enraging for our department in ways I cannot describe."
"Lieutenant Russo exemplified FDNY EMS. She served the city for 25 years," Kavanagh continued. "She was a World Trade Center first responder. She was cited multiple times for her bravery and her lifesaving work, and she was absolutely beloved on this job."
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, "She was on duty, doing her job, saving the people of the City of New York. That was her role and that's the role of the countless men and women who are moving through the city, saving New Yorkers."
Adams added, "She was working for this city. She paid the ultimate sacrifice because of that."
The NYPD Chaplains Unit honored the slain EMT: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of FDNY Emergency Medical Service Lieutenant Alison Russo-Elling who was stabbed and killed in the line of duty. May God grant her eternal peace."
The Uniformed Firefighters Association wrote on Twitter, "Today 25 year veteran EMS Lt. Alison Russo-Elling was murdered in the line of duty while attending to a patient. The UFA and all members of the FDNY are enraged at the senseless killing and ever increasing violence in our city. It has to stop. Her senseless killing brings sorrow to every member of the FDNY and every New Yorker. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the department with bowed heads, and we will forever be here to support our FDNY family in this unspeakably difficult time. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Alison’s family, loved ones, and colleagues."
Former New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton added, "The senseless murder of FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo-Elling is tragic loss mourned by all of NYC. A 25-year veteran, she was a dedicated public servant who selflessly cared for people in their time of need. Lt. Russo-Elling led a life of significance. Praying for her family."
Fellow first responders paid tribute to Russo-Elling by lining the streets as a procession transported her body from the hospital to the medical examiner's office.
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