(NEW YORK) — A New York City paramedic who responded to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, will be laid to rest on Wednesday, six days after she was stabbed to death.
Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, a nearly 25-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, was stabbed approximately 19 times in the chest in an “unprovoked attack” while on duty in Queens on the afternoon of Sept. 29, authorities said. She was 61.
Peter Zisopoulos, 34, was subsequently arrested in connection with the slaying. He has been charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon. He has no prior arrests and no known connection to Russo-Elling, according to authorities.
Authorities said Russo-Elling was in the vicinity of 20th Avenue and Steinway Street in Astoria, near her station’s quarters, when she was attacked. Authorities obtained surveillance footage that purportedly shows the incident. In the video, Russo-Elling is seen walking past Zisopoulos, who is standing in the doorway of a building. Suddenly, Zisopoulos appears to pull out a steak knife and “runs full speed” behind Russo-Elling, knocking her on her back and attacking her, authorities said.
An eyewitness is seen in the video apparently attempting to intervene, but Zisopoulos chases them away with the knife still in his hand. He then retreats to his apartment, where he barricaded himself before being taken into custody.
Russo-Elling was transported in critical condition to Mount Sinai Queens Hospital, where she died, according to authorities.
In the wake of her slaying, Russo-Elling’s colleagues described her as “the mother hen of the station” who “was always looking out for everybody.” She was the second emergency medical worker to be murdered on the city’s streets in the last five years and the 1,158th member of the FDNY to die in the line of duty, according to authorities.
In 2017, FDNY emergency medical technician Yadira Arroyo, 44, was struck and killed by her own ambulance after it was stolen in the Bronx.
Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh announced Tuesday that Russo-Elling will be posthumously promoted to captain at her funeral, which will take place Wednesday at 11 a.m. local time.
“Alison Russo was everything we look for in a leader in our Department,” Kavanagh said in a statement. “A dedicated and accomplished veteran of 25 years, she responded to thousands of emergencies, mentored many new EMTs and paramedics, cared deeply for the communities she served, and set an incredible example for others at Station 49 and at every station she called home throughout her outstanding career. This posthumous promotion is a sign of our deep respect and admiration for all the courageous and selfless work she did throughout her career. We will never forget her.”
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