NEW YORK - An FDNY Emergency Medical Services lieutenant was fatally stabbed in Queens on Thursday afternoon. Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, 61, was on duty when a man stabbed her multiple times "in a barbaric and completely unprovoked attack" just outside her EMS station in Astoria, Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at a briefing on Thursday evening.
"Members of EMS serve only to help and save other people's lives," Kavanagh said. "To be attacked in the course of helping others is both heartbreaking and enraging for our department in ways I cannot describe."
Russo was walking to get food when a 34-year-old man with a knife stabbed her numerous times at the corner of 20th Avenue and 41st Street, Chief of Detectives James Essig said.
New York City Fire Department stabbing
A witness who knows the attacker chased him to an apartment building on 41st Street where he barricaded himself inside his third-floor apartment, Essig said.
"Members of the Hostage Negotiating Team and Emergency Service Unit were able to talk this person out of the apartment," Essig said. "He was taken into custody and is presently in the 114 Precinct where the investigation is ongoing."
He was identified as Peter Zisopoulos of Queens. He faces murder and weapons charges.
Russo was rushed to Mount Sinai Queens, where she died, the chief said.
"Our hearts go out to the family, her colleagues, and the city of New York," Mayor Eric Adams said. "We lost one of our heroes. She provided a service in the city for over 24 years."
The mayor said the assailant "will be held accountable."
Russo was a World Trade Center first responder who "exemplified FDNY EMS," the fire commissioner said.
"She was cited multiple times for her bravery and her lifesaving work and she was absolutely beloved on this job," Kavanagh said. "She is 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 five years."
"New York's first responders deserve to return home safely at the end of their shifts," Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a tweet. "Our hearts are with the family of the EMS lieutenant who was killed while delivering care today and the entire @FDNY as they mourn this tragic loss."
Police at the scene of a stabbing in Astoria, Queens, on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. (FOX 5 NY Image)