Slain FDNY EMS Lieutenant Alison Russo-Elling posthumously promoted to captain at funeral

Russo-Elling, a 9/11 first responder, is being remembered as someone who dedicated her life to helping others.

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Thursday, October 6, 2022
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Family, friends and colleagues will bid a final farewell today to FDNY EMS Lieutenant Alison Russo-Elling. Chantee Lans has the story.

BROOKVILLE, Nassau County (WABC) -- Family, friends and colleagues are bidding a final farewell today to FDNY EMS Lieutenant Alison Russo-Elling.

Russo-Elling, a 9/11 first responder being remembered as someone who dedicated her life to helping others, was stabbed to death in Queens last week.

She was posthumously promoted to the rank of captain during today's funeral, a final honor from the department she served for 24 years.

The ceremony got underway after 11 a.m. as Russo-Elling's casket arrived at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on Northern Boulevard in Brookville, Nassau County.

The procession was led by the Huntington Community First Aid Squad where she volunteered for decades.

WATCH: Lt. Russo-Elling's casket arrives at the Tilles Center

Mayor Eric Adams spoke directly to her parents, Catherine and Frank Fuoco, and her daughter Danielle.

"You are an American family, I say this over and over again," Adams said. "And what you have contributed, giving us your daughter, you've given us your mother. I cannot thank you enough, it's just my responsibility to keep the city safe. And I feel the weight of that every day."

Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh then posthumously promoted Russo to captain.

"Capt. Alison Russo defined FDNY EMS, she was caring, humble, whip smart and resilient," Kavanah said. "She made quick work of obstacles she faced and she was always up for a challenge. Capt. Russo did not shy away from those challenges. She embraced them. She did not pause in the face of danger. She ran towards it. Her desire to help greater than any fear. She knew how hard and dangerous this job was. And she chose to do it every day because she loved it. She was a first responder, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a mentor and a friend."

Kavanagh vowed that the department will continue to honor her and help and mentor others as she did.

"We will honor her when we come together to assist those most vulnerable in our city," she said. "Capt. Russo represented the best of us. She will serve as our North Star to find a path forward for the city, for the department and for our family in mourning. It may seem impossible now, but EMS makes the impossible possible every day on every call by literally giving someone a second chance at life. We will turn this pain into purpose, Mr. Mayor, because it is what Capt. Russo would have done. And it is what we owe her."

Her brother Craig and her father, Frank Fuoco, then came up for emotional eulogies.

Craig burst into tears as he said no parent should ever have to bury their child.

"It still feels unreal that we have lost our Alison to this senseless, random act of violence," he said. "Alison didn't deserve this, no one does, my hope is that our family's tragedy brings attention to problems facing first responders. Changes to promote community safety must be prioritized, both for the people who need help and the first responders who selflessly respond to those in need. I pray no other family has to go through this, our family will never be the same."

Her father said he stumbled on the horrific surveillance video of his daughter being repeatedly stabbed while reading tributes to her on Facebook.

"I couldn't hear her cry out, 'mom, dad, help,' only God knows the horrific look on her face as he stabbed her to death," Fucco said. "She was such a beautiful person, he killed her and tore all our hearts apart and all of our colleagues. Only time we help will fill the void with the memories of her service and kindness to help those in need."

He said that she would have been the first person to come to the suspect's aid if he ever needed help.

Her daughter, Danielle, then told the audience not to even think about the suspect.

"Any hate in your heart created from this sudden calamity, I need you to remove that, I need you to replace it with love, this is not a time to dwell on tragedy," she said. "Do not let your thoughts be clouded by this act of sudden trauma. You need to replace it with honoring my mother for the hero that she was, the hero that she is."

The 61-year-old veteran first responder was on duty when she was stabbed Thursday afternoon near her station in the Astoria section of Queens.

She was heading to a corner store to get something to eat when police say 34-year-old Peter Zisopoulos stabbed her multiple times. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Zisopoulos was arrested after barricading himself in his home. He remains at Bellevue Hospital, where he is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

The motive for the stabbing is not clear.

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