Alison Russo-Elling death: Suspect Peter Zisopoulos was transported to hospital by her EMS unit in 2018
QUEENS, NEW YORK: Alison Russo-Elling, 61, was a World Trade Center first responder and 25-year veteran EMS member who was stabbed in an unprovoked attack by Astoria man Peter Zisopoulos when she went to get food by her Astoria stationhouse. As officials struggled to make sense of the random brutal attack by Zisopoulos, law enforcement officers on Friday, September 30, revealed that he had previously been transported to the hospital by her EMS unit, Station 49, after he made anti-Asian threats online.
The circumstances surrounding Lt Russo's death and her encounter with Zisopoulos before he reportedly assaulted and stabbed her 19 times with a steak knife are still unknown. Officials say she was not employed by the Astoria, New York, EMS unit, Station 49, at the time of the 2018 emergency call, reports New York Post. Russo-Elling had worked in Queens her whole career while employed with the FDNY for 24 years. She was approximately six months away from retiring when she was killed by the maniac.
Members from FDNY EMS Station 20 paused to remember Lieutenant Alison Russo-Elling at their evening roll call. Station 20 was Lieutenant Russo-Elling’s first assignment as a member of the #FDNY. pic.twitter.com/qASC8eJ7es— FDNY (@FDNY) September 30, 2022
According to the FDNY, Russo-Elling didn't show up at EMS Unit, Station 49, where Zisopoulos' emergency transfer was handled until April 2021. The 34-year-old suspect was taken by the unit to Elmhurst Hospital in April 2018 for being mentally disturbed. Officials said that he had posted anti-Asian threats on Facebook and had diagnosed with schizophrenia. FDNY Acting Commissioner Laura Kavanagh recalled that Russo-Elling had been "cited multiple times for her bravery and her life-saving work, and she was absolutely beloved on this job."
Kavanagh in her statement described as Zisopoulos's crime as a "barbaric and completely unprovoked attack." Zisopoulos ran away after the stabbing on September 29, Thursday and a witness said Zisopoulos had holed himself up in his 41st Street building. He barricaded himself in his third-floor apartment for about 90 minutes before negotiators managed to coax him out of there without any incident.
The violent killing of the hero EMT has lef the city reeling. "We lost one of our heroes," Mayor Eric Adams said on Sept 28 at a late night press conference after going to the hospital where Russo had been taken. "She was working for this city, and paid the ultimate sacrifice because of that." Zisopoulos is being charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the fatal stabbing of Russo-Elling.