BROOKVILLE, N.Y. (PIX11) — FDNY EMS veteran Alison Russo-Elling was mourned Wednesday at her Long Island funeral, days after her life and career of nearly a quarter-century were cut short in an unprovoked, on-duty stabbing.
Russo-Elling, 61, has been remembered in recent days as a devoted friend, daughter, and mother, as well as a dedicated first responder whose 24 years of service included answering the call of duty on 9/11. In honor of that service, Russo-Elling was posthumously promoted Wednesday from lieutenant to captain.
Russo-Elling was walking near her Queens station house on Sept. 29 when she was repeatedly stabbed without any provocation, by Peter Zisopoulos, 34, police have alleged. After briefly barricading himself inside his nearby apartment, Zisopoulos was arrested and is awaiting arraignment on charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon. He is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
“This is a tragic case and a devastating loss for the family as well as our city. FDNY EMS Captain Alison Russo-Elling spent her 25-year career helping others in their time of need. Now, her family mourns her passing because, as alleged, the defendant brutally stabbed Ms. Russo-Elling to death near her workstation in Astoria,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues that she leaves behind. The defendant has been indicted on murder charges and faces justice in our courts.”
During wake services spanning Monday and Tuesday in Commack, hundreds of Russo-Elling’s fellow first responders turned out to pay their respects, in addition to friends, family, and Mayor Eric Adams.
“Her personality never stopped,” said Tom Hogan, a friend and fellow emergency worker in Long Island’s Huntington Community First Aid Squad, where Russo volunteered in addition to her FDNY EMS work.
“Always so filled with life,” Hogan continued of Russo-Elling. “She touched so many people in so many different ways.”
That impact was reflected Wednesday as Russo-Elling’s funeral was held at the Tilles Center for Performing Arts in Brookville.
Frank Fuoco, Russo-Elling’s father, talked about his daughter’s nurturing character toward her community and her family.
“Alison was a caring person who will always respond to the call for help,” he said. “Alison’s concern for us was the daily phone call, asking ‘What are you guys doing today? What are you having for dinner?'”
Danielle Fuoco, Russo-Elling’s daughter, asked the attendees to focus on her mother’s legacy rather than her passing.
“Any hate in your heart created from this sudden calamity, I need you to remove that,” she said. “I need you to replace it with love. We have been given this opportunity to reflect on all the amazing accomplishments she had achieved.”