NYC man accused of killing of FDNY EMS Capt. Alison Russo is arraigned, pleads not guilty
Dozens of EMS providers watched from a courtroom gallery as Peter Zisopoulos entered his plea in a video feed from a Bellevue Hospital bed
Ellen Moynihan, Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The man who fatally stabbed an FDNY EMS lieutenant just steps from her Queens station was indicted and arraigned on murder charges Thursday as dozens of steely-eyed emergency medical technicians and paramedics watched in a courtroom gallery.
Peter Zisopoulos pleaded not guilty in a video feed from a bed at Bellevue Hospital after Queens prosecutors charged him with murder and criminal weapon possession for his unprovoked Sept. 29 attack on EMS Lt. Alison Russo.
Russo, 61, was on duty when she was killed Thursday afternoon near her station in Astoria. She was on her way to a corner deli to get something to eat when Zisopoulos, 34, attacked her, knifing her more than 10 times. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died.
She was a 24-year veteran of the FDNY and expected to retire in a few months, friends said.
Zisopoulos is facing 25 years to life if convicted.
“This is a tragic case and a devastating loss for the family as well as our City,” Queens DA Melinda Katz said in a statement. “FDNY EMS Captain Alison Russo 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 (her) to death near her workstation in Astoria.”
After the stabbing, Zisopoulos ran back to his nearby home and surrendered to authorities after a brief standoff with police. During questioning, he admitted to stabbing Russo, according to prosecutors.
The murder suspect had no prior arrests, but had been hospitalized in 2018 when cops found him cursing at Asians in the street, authorities said. Relatives have told police that Zisopoulos was schizophrenic.
Over the weekend, he was sent to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation but deemed fit to face criminal charges.
Acting FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh posthumously promoted Russo to captain at her funeral in Long Island Wednesday. During solemn tributes to a lifetime lifesaver, Russo’s family directed their pain and anger at Zisopoulos.
“He left her dying there on the street like a rag doll that was just discarded,” Russo’s father Frank Fuoco said to a hushed crowd at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville, L.I. “Alison was our hero. She was such a beautiful person. He killed her and tore a hole in our hearts.
“That man murdered our daughter and she would have been the first one to come to his aid if he ever needed help.”
Russo’s younger brother, Craig Fuoco said his sibling’s murder “feels unreal.”
“Alison didn’t deserve this. No one does,” he said. “My hope is that our family’s tragedy will bring attention to problems facing first responders. Changes to promote community safety need to be prioritized for both the people who need help as well as for the first responders who selflessly respond to those in need.”
The mother and grandmother was a 9/11 World Trade Center responder and a member of the Huntington Community First Aid Squad volunteer since November 1992.
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