NEW YORK -- Family, friends and first responders gathered on Long Island on Wednesday to celebrate the life of now-Capt. Alison Russo,.
As CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported, thousands of mourners were in and around the Tilles Center at LIU Post for the ceremony.
Members of the FDNY carefully carried Russo's body from Commack Abbey into an ambulance bearing her name.
A procession then made its way to LIU Post in Brookville, where first responders lined the pathway. They found strength in numbers and in each other.
Music echoed outside the Tilles Center and inside, followed by heartfelt words from those who knew and loved her.
"This tremendous loss has left a humongous void in our hearts," Station 49 Lt. Nancy Leger said.
Russo, affectionately known by her colleagues "Allie," was called the "mother hen" of FDNY EMS Station 49.
"Think about how many New Yorkers she helped," said EMS. Lt. Anthony Almojera, who knew Russo for 16 years.
Almojera says Russo was always smiling.
"A lot of the members today described her as like the den mother, you know, and that's Alison," he told CBS2's Tim McNicholas said. "You know, she loved the job."
He says she was looking forward to retirement next year.
She dedicated 25 years to the FDNY and volunteered with the Huntington Community First Aid Squad even longer. It was said she answered more than 25,000 911 calls during the course of her career.
Watch Jenna DeAngelis' report
"That man murdered my daughter and she would be the first one to come to his aid if he needed help," said Frank Fuoco, Russo's father.
Russo was on duty on Thursday. The man who police say killed her was arrested.
"Do not let your thoughts be clouded by this act of sudden trauma. You need to replace it with honoring my mother for the hero that she was, hero that she is," daughter Danielle Fuoco said to applause.
FDNY Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh posthumously promoted Russo to captain, describing her as dedicated and fearless.
"She knew how hard and dangerous this job was and she chose to do it every day because she loved it," Kavanagh said.
"I could go on and on about her time with the FDNY EMS, but my big sister was more than that. She was a daughter, a mother, a sister, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a cousin, and friend, a neighbor, a colleague and a mentor. She was so may things to so many people," brother Craig Fuoco said.
Russo was a woman who touched so many lives, both in and out of service, and that's how she'll be remembered.
Many spoke about how Russo helped to carry the city through its darkest days as a World Trade Center first responder and an EMT through COVID. She was a true hero in every sense of the word.
Her suspected killer is expected to be in court Thursday.
Family's powerful words
Capt. Russo's family shared powerful words about her life, legacy and the loss she leaves behind.
"Any hate in your heart created from this sudden calamity, I need you to remove that. I need you to replace it with love, " Russo's daughter, Danielle Fuoco, said during the service. "This is not a time to dwell on tragedy. At this moment, we are given a chance for you to reminisce on any and every memory you have of my mother. We have been given this opportunity to reflect on the all the amazing accomplishments she has achieved."
"She was such a beautiful person. He killed her, and tore a hole in our hearts and all her colleagues. Only time, we hope, will fill the void with the memories of her service and kindness to help those in need," said her father. "I just want to also add here -- That man murdered my daughter, and she would be the first one to come to his aid if he ever needed help."
"I could go on and on about her time with the FDNY EMS, but my big sister was more than that. She was a daughter, a mother, a sister, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, a neighbor, a colleague and a mentor. She was so many things to so many people," her brother, Craig Fuoco said.
Russo promoted to captain
Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaghduring Wednesday's service.
"Alison so clearly embodied the mission, the intent, the essence of being a member of FDNY EMS. That is why it is my distinct privilege to honor Lt. Russo for her service, her sacrifice and her leadership by posthumously promoting her to the rank of captain that she so rightly deserves," Kavanagh said.
Mayor Adams: "She was a hero"
Mayor Eric Adams delivered the opening eulogy, offering his condolences to Russo's family.
"Your daughter gave 25 years to this city. She was aware of the danger," he said. "When she signed up, she was aware of the danger. She was promoted, she was aware of the danger. During 9/11 when we saw foreign enemies attack our soil, she was aware. She was hero then, she's a hero now
"Her job was her life"
Hearts are heavy as family, friends and first responders gather to celebrate the life of Lt. Russo on Long Island.
As CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported, thousands were in and around the Tilles Center at LIU Post for the ceremony.
Members of the FDNY carefully carried Russo's body from Commack Abbey into an ambulance bearing her name. The procession then made its way to LIU Post in Brookville, where first responders lined the pathway.
Music echoed through the Tilles Center, followed by heartfelt words from those who knew and loved Russo.
The 61-year-old was described as everything the FDNY looks for in a leader in the department.
The acting fire commissioner posthumously promoted Russo to captain. She dedicated 25 years to the FDNY.
She also volunteered with the Huntington Community First Aid Squad and was a World Trade Center first responder.
"Even after the Trade Center, we were all dirty and somewhat down, she wasn't. She was like, alright let's get in there, let's see what we can do, let's see who we can help," retired FDNY Lt. Susan Muller said. "That was her attitude. She was very positive."
Those who worked at FDNY EMS Station 49 in Astoria reflected on the impact she left behind.
"She was a remarkable woman. Everything that's been said about her -- she was dedicated, she volunteered," said retired FDNY Lt. Lisa Rood.
Russo was on duty last Thursday when she was stabbed more than 20 times in an unprovoked attack. The man accused of killing her was arrested.
The focus Wednesday is honoring the woman who lived to serve.
"She loved everybody and everybody loved her. Her job was her life," friend Trish Schmeiser said.
"She was one of the nicest, kind-hearted, joking person. So I want them to remember that and just know that she was the hero that she is," said Michael Greco, of VP Local 2507.
A hero who will never be forgotten.
Sea of blue in Brookville
CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis captured part of the motorcade as first responders arrived for the funeral.
Watch the funeral streaming live
Lt. Russo's funeral will be streamed live at 11 a.m. on CBS News New York.
You can watch on the CBS News app on any device or smart tv. Hit "live" and find us on CBS News New York.
Or watch on the Pluto TV app, where we're on channel 400.
Remembering Lt. Russo
Somber morning on Long Island
As CBS2's John Dias reported, the gloomy weather sets the backdrop to another somber day for the FDNY and many Long Islanders. They will say their final farewells to a woman who was as brave as they come.
The outpouring of support is only just a mere example of the mark EMS Lt. Alison Russo will leave on New York. It speaks volumes to the person she was and how many lives she touched both in and out of service.
"There are hundreds of people walking this earth who have their life thanks to Alison," said Michael Greco, of VP Local 2507.
Years ago, Grego was Russo's partner in Queens. They worked at the same station for nearly a decade and remained great friends.
"She was the type of person who would give you the shirt off her back," he said.
On Monday, members of the department saluted her parents as they made their way into her wake. The last two days havefor the 61-year-old.
She will be remembered for the hero she was and her service, outreached by only few.
"Alison was the person that came into the room and really lit up the place," FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens said.
Russo was a World Trade Center first responder, dedicated 25 years to the FDNY and volunteered with the Huntington Community First Aid Squad.
"She was a ball of fire. In the fire department, outside the fire department. She was just amazing, and we're going to miss her," one friend said.
No doubt, hanging up her helmet would have been a hart feat, but Russo was so close to retirement. However, sadly, never made it. She waslast week.
Her alleged killer is facing murder charges.
"She was six months away from retiring, and she did all the right things. She did everything she was supposed to do, and she just gave her life to this," said Ann Schwartz, with the Huntington Community First Aid Squad.
The motive for the stabbing is still unclear, however CBS2 has learned the suspect has a history of schizophrenia.
As for Russo, she leaves behind her parents, a daughter and grandchild.
Russo to be posthumously promoted
Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh announced the fallen paramedic will beat her celebration of life Wednesday.
Good Samaritan left shaken
In an exclusive interview, CBS2 heard from a Queens mechanic who witnessed the attack and confronted the suspect.
Janki Oomraw Oomraw was working in his shop on when he heard someone yelling. He looked outside and saw a man on a scooter.
"He was yelling 'Hey, somebody's getting stabbed or killed!'" said Oomraw.
Then, Oomraw saw the suspect, Peter Zisopoulos, running after the scooter-rider with a knife.
The man on the scooter, Jimmy Orsaris, recounted that terrifying moment with CBS2 the day after the attack.
"Obviously I take off. I mean, I have a knife on me too, but what, am I going to have a knife battle with this guy? This guy wasn't ... he wasn't there," said Orsaris.
Surveillance images show what happened next - the moment Oomraw stepped outside and confronted Zisopoulos.
"I saw the blood on his hand and a knife in his hand. And I asked him, I said, 'Hey, what the f*** did you do bro?'" said Oomraw. "And he just ignored me and just keep on walking. And after that, I follow him to see where he's going."
Oomraw, as he followed Zisopoulos down the street, said he discovered Russo wounded on the ground. He could tell by her clothes she was an EMT.
"I said 'Wait, wait. I'm gonna get help.' That's when I went after him," said Oomraw. "He actually walked very fast and he went into the building next to me and went upstairs."
Oomraw said he saw someone he knew, shouted for them to call 911 and ran to the nearby EMS station to let them know their coworker was attacked.
They rushed to the scene and did everything they could to try to save Russo's life.
"Every day I gotta picture it in my head. And I gotta live with it," said Oomraw.