Thomas Tracy, Rocco Parascandola, Larry McShane
New York Daily News
Heartbroken colleagues of a slain FDNY EMS veteran gathered beneath mourning bunting outside their Queens station Friday, one day after she was stabbed to death on a nearby sidewalk in a barbaric and unprovoked attack.
Accused killer Peter Zisopoulos, 34, was charged with murder and criminal weapon possession in the seemingly random killing of EMS Lt. Alison Russo, 61, as she walked from her Queens EMS stationhouse to a nearby deli on Thursday afternoon.
“A senseless, heinous, brutal murder,” said FDNY EMS Deputy Chief Gregg Brady outside EMS Station 49. “She was a mother, daughter and friend. We are heartbroken and we are standing by each other. May she never be forgotten.”
Another colleague remembered the beloved Russo, stabbed more than 20 times, as “the mother hen” of the station. She was also a grandmother.
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics, joined by city police officers, stood silently in five-deep rows as tears flowed and hugs were shared for the 24-year veteran who planned to retire in the coming months. Russo was also a 9/11 first responder, according to the FDNY.
A wake for Russo is planned Monday and Tuesday afternoons at the Commack Abbey funeral home in Commack, L.I. A memorial service will be held Wednesday morning at the Tilles Center on Long Island University’s C.W. Post Campus in Brookville. The Tilles Center can hold more than 2,000 people.
The murder suspect had no prior arrests before his bust for Thursday’s brutal killing only a few steps from the station on 20th Ave. near 41st St. in Astoria, police said.
After he was arrested and taken to the 114th Precinct stationhouse, the accused killer murmured and spewed gibberish as he paced back and forth, a police source said. The NYPD intended to search his apartment, where Zisopoulos was arrested, at some point Friday.
Authorities said his only other interaction with the police came in 2018 when he was accused of making threats against Asians. He was hospitalized, but never charged, police said.
Zisopoulos was taken out of the 114th Precinct stationhouse in Astoria on Friday. It was unclear when he would be arraigned in Queens Criminal Court.
Graphic video of the crime viewed by the Daily News shows the man identified by authorities as Zisopoulos running quickly up to Russo as she stood on a street corner.
Zisopoulos body-slammed Russo to the ground and then jumped on top of her, appearing to straddle her body and stabbing her over and over again in the chest with a large knife.
The video shows a man riding by on a scooter. “Stop! Stop!” the man yelled, according to a police source.
“F—k you! F—k you!,” the killer shouted as the man fled, according to the source.
Zisopoulos swung the knife a few more times after the scooter passed out of the video’s range of view. Then he got up, staggered around for a few steps, and took off running out of the frame, leaving Russo lying on the sidewalk.
Zisopoulos ran back to his nearby apartment, in a three-story building that also houses what is known as New York’s only swingers club. He was chased by eyewitness Janki Oomraw, 42. “He has a bloody knife in his hand. There was blood all over his hands,” Oomraw recounted to the Daily News.
Zisopoulos locked himself inside his apartment as police arrived. It was another hour before he surrendered to officers, cops said.
Russo was appointed to the Fire Department in March 1998 as an EMT. She was promoted to paramedic in 2002 and bumped up to lieutenant in 2016. She also served as one of the department’s elite rescue medics.
Her passion for lifesaving extended beyond her job with the city.
“She will be dearly missed by everyone, but her legacy will live within our hearts forever,” read a Facebook post from her colleagues at the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, where she spent 13 years.
“We lost one of our heroes,” Mayor Adams said Thursday after rushing to Mount Sinai Hospital-Queens, where doctors could not save her life. “She was on duty doing her job saving the people of New York.”
In addition to her efforts at the World Trade Center, Russo “was cited multiple times for her bravery and her life-saving work,” said Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “She was absolutely beloved on this job.”