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Suspect in stabbing of NYC EMT, 9/11 first responder charged with murder

Russo-Elling joined the fire department as an EMT in 1998 and promoted through the ranks.

Lt. Alison Russo-Elling of the New York City Fire Department
Lt. Alison Russo-Elling of the New York City Fire Department | FDNY/Twitter

September 30, 2022 6:59pm

Updated: October 16, 2022 10:19pm

The man suspected of stabbing and killing a beloved New York City Fire Department veteran in an unprovoked attack was charged with second-degree murder and possession of a deadly weapon on Friday.

Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, a 61-year-old grandmother and department veteran who was a World Trade Center responder on Sept. 11, 2001, had left her station to grab lunch on Thursday when she was jumped and stabbed over 20 times by a stranger.

The suspected attacker, 34-year-old Peter Zisopoulos, scared off a bystander and was chased by another into an apartment nearby, where he barricaded himself until police convinced him to come out and surrender.

Russo-Elling joined the fire department as an EMT in 1998, where she was promoted to a paramedic in 2002 and a lieutenant in 2016. She was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition but could not be saved, according to police.

Her parents told the New York Post that the 25-year veteran of the department was months from retirement but considering staying on “because she was so dedicated” to her job.

“She loved her work,” said Catherine Fuoco, her 85-year-old mother.

Fuoco criticized the rising violence in the Big Apple, saying: “People who work in the city don’t want to go into the city anymore because of what’s happening, not only on the subways [but] on the streets. They’re groping women. There are naked men. They’re doing all kinds of dastardly deeds.”

Dozens of first responders attended Zisopoulos’ arraignment to show their support for Russo-Elling and her family.

“We’re here to send a message to the court that we don’t want this man back on the streets. The only justice is if he stays in jail for the rest of his life because he’s a murderer,” Vincent Variale, the president of the Uniformed EMS Officers Union, told the New York Post.