NEW YORK - Purple and black bunting now drapes the entrance to EMS Station 49 in Astoria, Queens. The bunting was hung in a solemn ceremony on Friday to mourn the loss of FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, who was stabbed to death in a random attack outside the station on Thursday.
Her FDNY brothers and sisters are heartbroken. Paramedic Madeline Higueros said Russo-Elling had a "heart of gold."
"She was here for the whole station, she made sure we were all OK," "We're a close-knit station."
EMS Lt. Nancy Leger said, "She was the mother hen of the station — she was always looking out for everybody."
Police arrested and charged Peter Zisopoulos, 34, of Astoria, with murder.
The lieutenant was on duty and going to get lunch near the EMS station when Zisopoulos suddenly attacked her with a knife, police said. Authorities said he stabbed her numerous times and then fled to his apartment nearby.
Police said Zisopoulos as no prior criminal record and no connection to the EMS lieutenant.
"This event has cut deep into our souls and has rippled to the first responder communities across the nation," EMS Chief Lillian Bonsignore said.
Russo-Elling was a 24-year veteran of the FDNY and a first responder on Sept. 11 who dedicated her life to helping others.
EMS Deputy Chief Greg Brady called Russo-Elling his "sister, friend and partner."
"She wore her heart on her sleeve and would give you the shirt off her back," Brady said. "She was there for me when I was at my most vulnerable. She put her arm around me and said, 'Everything is going to be OK.'"
At a news briefing on Thursday, Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh called the attack "barbaric and completely unprovoked."