Home Safety Man charged in stabbing death of EMS lieutenant has history of mental...

Man charged in stabbing death of EMS lieutenant has history of mental illness

Peter Zisopoulous (left), Russo-Elling (right)

Thomas Tracy

New York Daily News

The man charged with stabbing a Queens EMS lieutenant to death in a “barbaric and completely unprovoked” attack has a history of schizophrenia, police sources said

Peter Zisopoulos, 34, was charged with murder and weapon’s possession for Thursday’s attack a few steps from EMS Station 49 on 20th Ave. near 41st St. in Astoria, according to the NYPD.

This is Zisopoulos’ first arrest, cops said.

His only other interaction with the police was in 2018 when he was accused of making threats against Asians. He was hospitalized, but never charged, police said.

On Thursday, EMS Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, 61, was on duty and heading to a nearby deli to get something to eat at about 2:30 p.m. when Zisopoulos ran up and repeatedly stabbed her.

“It happened on the corner,” said an EMS worker at the scene. “He didn’t say anything to her. It was totally random. She was on her way to get food.”

The killer ran up to Russo-Elling as she stood on the corner and attacked her just as she noticed him, graphic video viewed by the Daily News shows. When Russo fell to the ground, Zispopulos jumped on top of her, stabbing her nearly two dozen times in quick succession.

When he was done, he staggered around the sidewalk as Russo-Elling lay motionless on the pavement. He took off running out of frame moments later.

“There were two eyewitnesses who know the perpetrator, one of whom gave chase,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.

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 locked himself in his apartment, but surrendered to police after about an hour, cops said.

Russo-Elling, a 24-year veteran of the FDNY, was rushed to Mount Sinai Queens, where she died.

Mayor Adams rushed to the the hospital Thursday. “We lost one of our heroes,” Adams said. “She was on duty doing her job saving the people of New York.”

Russo-Elling was a grandmother and also worked with the volunteer ambulance corps in Huntington, Long Island. She was a first responder to the Sept. 11 attacks, and “was cited multiple times for her bravery and her life-saving work,” said Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.

“She was absolutely beloved on this job,” Kavanagh said.

Black mourning bunting will be draped across the entrance of EMS Station 49 Friday morning.

©2022 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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