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Astoria Man Arrested for Fatal Stabbing of EMS Lieutenant in Ditmars Thursday

An Astoria man has been arrested and charged with murder for the brutal stabbing of Alison Russo-Elling Thursday (Photos: FDNY)

Sept. 30, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

An Astoria man has been arrested and charged with murder for the brutal stabbing of an EMS lieutenant in the Ditmars section of the neighborhood Thursday afternoon.

Peter Zisopoulos, 34, was arrested by police shortly after he allegedly stabbed 61-year-old Alison Russo-Elling to death at the 20th Avenue and 41st Street intersection at around 2:20 p.m. — in what officials say was a random and completely unprovoked attack.

Russo-Elling, a 24-year veteran who was a first responder to the Sept. 11 attacks, was on duty at the time of the incident and had left EMS Station 49 to get food when she was attacked, FDNY officials said.

A horrific video posted online appears to show Zisopoulos lunging at Russo-Elling, knocking her down onto the pavement. He then kneels on top of her and savagely stabs her at least 20 times in the chest and neck.

Zisopoulos can then be seen running away from Russo-Elling as she lays on the ground dressed in her uniform.

He was then chased by a good Samaritan before barricading himself inside his nearby apartment NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said Thursday. The incident took place outside Zisopoulos’ apartment, which is on the third floor of 40-19 20th Ave.

Zisopoulos was later taken into custody by police and charged with her murder and criminal possession of a weapon. The New York Daily News reported that he has a history of schizophrenia.

Russo-Elling was rushed to Mount Sinai Queens in critical condition but could not be saved, police said.

Russo-Elling was a Long Island resident who also worked with the volunteer ambulance corps in Huntington. During her career she was cited “multiple times for her bravery and her life-saving work,” Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.

She joined the FDNY as an EMT in March 1998 and was promoted to paramedic in 2002 before becoming a lieutenant in 2016, according to the FDNY.

Russo-Elling worked out of numerous EMS stations throughout her career before ending up at Station 49 – which is a block away from where she was fatally attacked. She is survived by a daughter and her parents.

Dozens of FDNY officials assembled outside Mount Sinai last night and formed a guard of honor as her body was removed from the hospital.


The brutal killing of Russo-Elling sparked an outpouring of condolences from elected officials.

Mayor Eric Adams, who visited Mount Sinai hospital yesterday, said that her attacker would be held accountable for his actions.

“We lost a hero today,” Adams said. “She was murdered on duty in an unprovoked attack.”

Governor Kathy Hochul directed flags on state buildings to be flown at half-staff in honor of Russo-Elling.

“We remember Lt. Russo-Elling’s life, honor her service, and pray for her loved ones,” Hochul tweeted.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Tiffany Cabán, who represents the district, also offered her sympathies.

“This is a horrible, heartbreaking story,” Cabán tweeted. “My deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victim, and to every EMS who courageously safeguards the health of our city, day in and day out.”

Russo-Elling’s body being removed from Mount Sinai Thursday (Photo: FDNY)

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44 Comments

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So everyone who downvoted this comment

Are family members of the murderer.

Your ancestors must be so proud.

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Glenn Glenda

And nobody is questioning the $1 billion Diblasios wife squandered for mental health? She and her commie husband aren’t held accountable while NYers suffer the consequences. So sad.

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The wife of a former mayor?

The program that started in 2015? No, nobody is questioning that because some people are focused on modern-day politics instead of regurgitated NY Post all-caps headlines.

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We question it daily

More than daily since the pandemic.

She’s just doing what she was brought up to do. Squander the taxpayers money.

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You mean in 2015?

Strange place to force that rehashed point, it’s it related to this specific article or the same tired rant from ages ago?

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Theresa Doogan

This is very sad and horric situation…but not a surprise. We fled NYC because the threat of random crime was increasing and overall quality of life was rapidly decreasing. For those reading this in the NYC area…you MUST vote these “progressive” lunatics out of office or, as you are currently witnessing, things will only get worse. I feel badly for anyone stuck in NY. Life is 1000x better away from that cesspool. And if everyone continues to be unmotivated and apathetic on voting day, you will get this…and more. Good luck to all.

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My mistake

James Magee was running for state assembly not city council. Anyway he basically spelled out why DA’S can’t place people with mental health problems even the severly dangerous one. Blood on the hands of the progressives shame on all of you!

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Blood on progressives hands

If anybody listened to a man that was running for city council Magee ( Democrat). Magee was a DA and he explained in detail the problems bail reform was causing in allowing a DA to place people with mental health problems where they need to be.
I guess nobody was listening cus he wasn’t progressive enough.

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Martin

I saw the video. It was horrifying. She had absolutely no time to react. NYC is a dumpster.

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Dan V.

De Blasio should have been jailed. He opened up the floodgates for these crimes to become common place. These politicians (including our present mayor) all pretend to care about this poor woman’s murder but they don’t. They only care about their political survival. Please vote these losers out of office so we can attempt to return NYC to the great city it was.

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His crook wife

Too. This free services for mental health was her idea and baby. Time to call CPS.

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Gardens Watcher

Maybe Cabán could sit with this killer in his cell and discuss his mental illness issues. She should practice what she preaches.

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Jose

NYC is under a serious crime wave along with a lot of senseless attacks due to mental health. It’s time to start locking these individuals up and getting them the help they need.

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Mark

I live on Ditmars, Astoria. And I can say I lived here all my life. And it’s not safe anywhere in nyc anymore. It used to be nice and peaceful community, now it’s just a rat infested, trench. Smh 😠

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Robert

The entry to Rikers that Caban wants to close is a couple of blocks away. They could of walked the suspect there it is so close.

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Abdul

Very sad. My heart is broken. Please support local business in the area. Its been a ghost town since yesterday except for the people showing up to take pics and leave.

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JoeBama Magoo

we cant afford to support local businesses. the local businesses have raised prices to unaffordable levels.

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Conor

I know that area Steinway in Astoria Queens it’s too much problem over there . Its right by the swingers sex club. Bunch of weed smokers and drunks walking around.

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Bill

Keep voting for tgesr progressives and it will just keep getting worse. Ignorant people just keep voting for these people.

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Maybe we should make it a choice

Instead of a law to respond. Give the first responders the right to say no.

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Dianna

Emt’s and Police should have mandatory counseling, they see and go through so much. Prayers for all 🙏🙏🙏. We need more social workers to help criminals and victims.

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Theresa

This is why Mayor Deblasio should have given us our Early Retirement incentive. My condolences to the family. God help her family, the suspect and us.

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Tara

It’s getting to the point where many do not care about victims in NYC because things like this keep happening sometimes day after day. All most cared in Astoria is opening the bike lanes and the cops off the sidewalk so they can walk their dogs. This incident went national/global.

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Margarita

The whole thing is sad. It’s sad that funding for mental health services keeps getting slashed or this guy might’ve gotten treatment and been on medication. It’s sad the EMT was killed. It’s sad that NYC is soooo expensive to live in that we have EMTs working into their 60’s, another 3-4 years she would’ve been a senior citizen. There’s no retirement if you have to work until your elderly. I think it’s sad that this guy is gonna end up in prison for this instead of a psychiatric facility where he belongs. It’s sad that in America we dump our mentally ill in prison where they get worse, get out, do something else cause of their now worse mental illness and put in prison where they worse, get out, all the way til they eventually kill somebody. Then we complain about crime. This is not a crime problem, this is a mental illness problem. I’m sure the victim EMT lady understood that too. She dealt with sooo many people like that in her long career that she knew it’s not his fault, it’s our government’s failure. It’s just sad all around.

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Dave

Exactly this, the Mayor suggests that the bad actor be “held accountable” but he knows full well, as do the police, the man was simply mentally ill. There’s nothing that’s going to “hold him accountable”. He’s out of his mind. The only thing the mayor’s comments exist for is to placate people who are incapable of a more complex perspective (I imagine of the ilk that most of your down-voters represent). I could even be less caustic if there were any reason to believe there were any kind of material or sexual motivation, but the entire context screams “just nuts”, and yet you still have people binding this incident in with muggings and robberies. As a society, apparently, we’re just going to be too stupid to solve these types of problems.

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Dave

A rock thrown through a window doesn’t get a pass either. But it’s a rock. It doesn’t know it was thrown, it doesn’t know it went through your window. Put it a jail cell after the fact and now you have a rock in a jail cell. It’s a rock. A mentally deranged person isn’t going to be cognizant enough to recognize their culpability. Of course someone who runs around stabbing people has to be contained, that’s common sense. But that isn’t the same as holding them “accountable” – that’s just stopping the “rando stabbing machine”. The real trick, work, and ingenuity is to make sure they are best addressed as mentally ill in the first place whether that be some direct personal action, or some cultural and political changes. Whatever the case, otherwise you’re literally only prosecuting a ham sandwich.

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Srinivas

This guy, Peter, is such a hero for living for this long among us and fighting the negative stereotypes of people with schizophrenia! Sure he might have killed someone, victim… whatever. The real problem is that the government didn’t unleash the army of social workers on Astoria, handing out bread and solving crimes with their social skills.

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Kim

I thought it was a Jan 6 riot with the type of people at the scene of the crime with cell phones, cursing at the cops and outside the hospital. No one cares about regular folks that need emergency assistance.

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Betty

I do not know the criminal personally. But I do believe he is mentally ill. Many times delusional and hallucinating mentally ill people are triggered by someone or something leading to a violent and sometimes deadly outburst. It may have been her uniform where he thought she was after him and taking him in. My prior neighbor was schizophrenic and he was always accusing us of gang stalking him. Cops would sometimes show up and talk to him but he knew how to behave in front of authorities. The landlord next door raised the rent and maybe the city helped him relocate somewhere else or he is living on the streets. Hopefully very far away. It’s very hard to monitor severely mentally ill people because they actually believe what they think and sometimes view everybody against them.

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Nathalie

They tend to respond rather quickly when they consider you one of “their own.” The rest of us have to wait for hours for an ambulance or cops to show up and then if there’s video footage the NYPD might send it to the media so the public can identify the criminal.

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Gia

I watched the news footage of the suspect being escorted by the police into the police vehicle calmly and without incident. If it was a black man being arrested they would have shoved him, pushed him, harassed him and perhaps even shot at him.

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She said we should move

Prejudiced much honey ? Noooo of course not
Keep playing black victim card !

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