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Wake held for veteran FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo, stabbed to death in unprovoked attack

Wake held for slain FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo
Wake held for slain FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo 02:49

COMMACK, N.Y. - Remembrances began Monday for FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo. 

A wake for the 25-year veteran is being held Monday afternoon and Tuesday at a funeral home in Commack. 

Russo was stabbed to death last week in what police called an unprovoked attack. 

As CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported, the show of support speaks volumes to the person she was and how many lives she touched, both in and out of service. 

First responders, friends and family lined up in the cold and rain to honor Russo at Commack Abbey Funeral Home. 

FDNY members saluted her parents as they made their way inside, many describing Russo as a person who, even on a dreary day, would bring so much light. 

"Alison was a person who came into a room and really lit up the place," said Anthony Almojera of the FDNY EMS officers union Local 3621.

Friends say she lit up even more when helping others. 

"She loved being a medic. When I did speak to her, there was a twinge of sadness in her voice, lamenting the fact she going to retire, because I think if Alison physically could do it, she'd probably work 'til 100," Almojera said. 

Russo was a World Trade Center first responder, dedicated 25 years to the FDNY and volunteered with the Huntington Community First Aid Squad even longer. 

"She was a giver. Anyone who does this as a profession and volunteers the way she did at Huntington Community, that says a lot about her right there," said Ann Schwartz of the Huntington Community First Aid Squad. 

"There are hundreds of people walking this Earth, who have their life, thanks to Alison and don't know her name, don't even know she ever showed up," said Michael Greco, vice president of Local 2507. 

Years ago, Greco 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," Greco said. 

Russo died doing what she loved. On Thursday, the 61-year-old was stabbed more than 20 times in an unprovoked attack after she left her station in Astoria, Queens to get food. 

The man accused, 34-year-old Peter Zisopoulos, is now facing murder charges

"Nobody can comprehend what's going on right now. I think we're all shocked," said friend Jeanie Dempsey. 

Those who knew and loved her want her to be remembered as the hero that she was. 

"She was a ball of fire - in the fire department, outside the fire department. She was just amazing. We're going to miss her," Dempsey said. 

People are expected at the wake Monday night, and a second wake will take place Tuesday, followed by a funeral Wednesday morning. 

Mourners pay their respects to FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo 02:48

Flags have been ordered to be flown at half staff until after the final farewell on Wednesday. 

"A heart of gold. She was here for the station. She made sure that we were all OK," FDNY Paramedic Madeline Higueros said. 

Sunday, the FDNY posted a photo of the brave leader on Instagram, with a caption from a fellow lieutenant saying, in par, "there are no words that can express the pain that we are all feeling."

So many are left grappling with this great loss, especially her family. 

"Remember her for the hero that she was, because that is truly who she was, and she died doing what she loved," said her daughter, Danielle Fuoco. 

Her life was taken away too soon, but her service was arguably greater than someone who could have lived two lives. 

On Friday, a black and purple bunting was draped outside her Queens station to pay homage, followed by a show of respect and sorrow as community members from the Huntington area lined the streets leading to Commack Abbey Funeral Home. 

"I think that giving to others and service was really her biggest love in life," said Katie Donegan of the Huntington Community First Aid Squad. 

Loved ones will tell you Russo was as feisty as she was bubbly, knowing when to turn on each emotion. Making her one of the best in the business, a true New York hero. 

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