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FDNY veteran, and 9/11 first responder, killed in "barbaric and completely unprovoked" New York City stabbing

A longtime veteran with the New York City Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services was fatally stabbed Thursday in an unprovoked attack during her lunch break, police said. A suspect has been taken into custody. 

Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, a 25-year FDNY EMS veteran, was stabbed multiple times Thursday afternoon while on duty in Queens, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference. 

The 61-year-old was rushed to a hospital in Queens, where she died from her injuries, Adams said. 

Russo-Elling was getting food during her break, while wearing clothes that clearly indicated she was a member of FDNY, when a 34-year-old man brandished a knife and stabbed her multiple times, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said. 

The suspect, identified as 34-year-old Peter Zisopoulos, was taken into custody after barricading himself in a nearby building, CBS New York reported. He was charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

An undated photo of FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo, who was fatally stabbed while on duty in New York City on Sept. 29, 2022.  NYC Mayor's Office

The investigation into the attack is ongoing, police said. 

Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh called the attack on Russo-Elling — who served as a World Trade Center first responder on 9/11 — "barbaric and completely unprovoked."

"Members of EMS serve only to help and save other people's lives," she said. "To be attacked and killed in the course of helping others is both heartbreaking and enraging for our department in ways I cannot describe. Lt. Russo exemplified FDNY EMS. She served this city for 25 years, she was a World Trade Center first responder, she was cited multiple times for her bravery and her life saving work and she was absolutely beloved on this job."

Russo-Elling was 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 5 years, Kavanagh said. 

NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said the city is grieving the loss. 

'This deadly, senseless, broad daylight attack on a uniformed EMT member is a direct assault on our society," she said. "It is the latest consequence of the violence that we relentlessly fight in our city."

Russo-Elling joined FDNY as an EMT in 1998, the department said. She was promoted to lieutenant in 2016. 

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