A veteran emergency medical worker died Thursday afternoon after being stabbed outside an EMS station in Queens, police said.
The victim was identified as Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, 61, a 25-year veteran. She was “repeatedly stabbed in a barbaric and totally unprovoked attack,” acting fire marshal Laura Kavanagh said at a press conference at Mount Sinai Queens Hospital on Thursday evening. Russo-Elling’s death marks the first in-service death of an EMT five years from now, an FDNY official confirmed.
NYPD Chief James Essig said the attack happened at 2:15 p.m. outside an EMS station in Astoria at the corner of 20th Avenue and 41st Street. Russo-Elling had been walking half a block from the train station when she was approached by a man wielding a knife and stabbed her repeatedly in her body, authorities said.
Russo-Elling, a Long Island resident, was receiving food while wearing her uniform at the time, police say. After the attack, she was transported to Mount Sinai Queens, where she was pronounced dead.
In a joint statement late Thursday, FDNY-Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro and FDNY-Fire Officers Association President Lt. James McCarthy said Russo-Elling’s death was a reminder of the dangers facing responders. emergencies are faced every day.
“His senseless murder brings sadness to all FDNY members,” the statement read.
Mayor Eric Adams, who addressed the media in a solemn tone at Thursday evening’s press conference, was made aware of the incident shortly after it happened and was later transported from hospital emergency.
“Like in all of our first responders, they’re always on call,” Adams told reporters. “She was there for a reason. And whatever the reason, she shouldn’t have been murdered that way.
Essig said police arrested a 34-year-old man who was identified by two eyewitnesses at the scene. The suspect had fled inside an apartment building. He was eventually apprehended with the help of hostage negotiators, according to Essig.
Russo-Elling was among the EMS workers who responded to the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks and cited for bravery, Kavanagh said.
In a statement Thursday, Vincent Variale, president of the EMS Uniformed Officers Union Local 3621, called Russo-Elling a “beautiful person” loved by those who knew her.
“This horrific act demonstrates that EMS officers take the same risks as other first responders and don’t receive the same recognition for their work,” Variale said. “EMS officers don’t get breaks; they are on call to help save lives 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are the only first responders who intervene alone. There’s no driver, no partner, no helper, just an unwavering commitment to rescue the public when needed.
Henry Garrido, executive director of District Council 37, New York’s largest public employees union with 150,000 members and 89,000 retirees, said the union honors Russo-Elling for his service and bravery over the years. decades at work.
“Our members take on very difficult jobs on behalf of public service that too often put them at risk in the performance of their duties,” Garrido said.
An investigation is underway.
This story has been updated to include additional information as well as comments from FDNY-Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro and FDNY-Fire Officers Association President Lt. James McCarthy.