Last Updated on September 30, 2022
An EMT was stabbed to death while grabbing lunch in an unprovoked, broad daylight attack in Queens. Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, a 61-year-old department veteran who was a World Trade Center responder on Sept. 11, 2001, was stabbed more than 20 times by an assailant at 20th Avenue and 41st Street around 2:20 p.m., the New York Post reported.
The assailant pushed Russo-Elling to the ground before proceeding to stab her in the chest, stomach and neck area in rapid succession, disturbing footage of the attack shows. The attacker then ran off after initially idling around the mortally wounded EMT for about 10 seconds. He then passed by again, at which point a pedestrian approached Russo-Elling, who lay motionless on the sidewalk.
NYC OUT OF CONTROL❗️
— NY Actions (@NY_ACTIONS) September 30, 2022
She was rushed to an area hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, authorities said. She was on duty at the time of the assault and was about half-block from Station 49 on the sidewalk when she was attacked, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said.
Authorities have said that the attack was “unprovoked.”
“At this point in the investigation there doesn’t appear to have been any prior contact between them,” an FDNY source told the New York Post. “He just walked toward her, sped up and then stabbed her to death.”
The alleged attacker, a 34-year-old-man whose identity has yet to be released, was chased by a witness and ultimately barricaded himself in a nearby apartment. On the third floor of the apartment complex, police were able to talk him down and take him into custody.
ABC 7 reporter N.J. Burkett described the suspect’s bizarre demeanor upon his arrest, saying, “his face, totally without expression. He looked unfazed… almost nonchalant.”
The suspect was being held at the 114th Precinct as of late Thursday. Charges have not been announced as of this time.
Camilla Groth, 50, who lives on the same block as the crime scene, described the suspect as “weird” and a loner. “Loner. . . Something off but completely non-violent” Groth told the New York Post. “I’ve passed him on these side streets like here or over there,” Groth said, gesturing. “I typically go to the other side of the street. I didn’t want to meet him or say hi or anything.”
“I’ve never seen him with another person. He was always by himself when I saw him,” she added.
FDNY Acting Commissioner Laura Kavanagh called Russo’s death “heartbreaking,” adding she was stabbed in a “barbaric and completely unprovoked attack.”
The 61-year-old “was about six or seven months away from retirement,” Vincent Variale, president of Local 3621, told reporters outside the hospital where Russo-Elling was pronounced dead. “She was talking about it.”
The slain EMT worked out of Station 49 in Astoria and lived on Long Island. She joined the FDNY as an EMT in March 1998 and was promoted to a paramedic in 2002 before becoming a lieutenant in 2016.
Russo-Elling, who was a first responder at the World Trade Center on 9/11, “dedicated her life to saving others,” grief-stricken colleagues said.