For 24 years, emergency medical technician Alison Russo-Elling served the New York Fire Department, dedicating her career to saving lives.
On Thursday, while she was on duty, her life was snuffed out in a random attack, roughly six months before she was set to retire.
According to the New York Post, Lt. Russo-Elling was stabbed to death less than a block from Station 49 in Astoria, Queens.
Russo-Elling, 61, was taken to Mount Sinai Queens Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
“It was totally unprovoked. There was no rhyme or reason. There was no back and forth,” a business owner who witnessed the attack told WCBS-TV. He said he’d previously seen the suspect, identified as 34-year-old Peter Zisopoulos, wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood before.
The man appeared “unhinged” and “like he was on another planet,” the business owner added.
The suspect was chased to his apartment building by an onlooker, The New York Times reported, where he barricaded himself in his home. Hostage negotiators talked him out.
“While outside her station she was stabbed multiple times in a barbaric and completely unprovoked attack,” acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. “Members of EMS serve only to help and save other people’s lives. To be attacked and killed in the course of helping others is both heartbreaking and enraging for our department in ways I can’t describe.”
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Vincent Variale, president of the FDNY Local 3621 union, said the EMT “was about six or seven months away from retirement.” She had reportedly planned to spend the time with her daughter and grandchildren.
Russo-Elling was also one of the first responders at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001; she also aided in the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.
“Alison was the sweetest, kindest person you’ve ever met,” Variale…