The mother of a slain New York City Fire Department lieutenant had one request for Mayor Eric Adams at her daughter’s wake: “Please, give me back my city.”
Lt. Alison Russo-Elling was stabbed to death during her lunch break Thursday, only a block from her EMS station. She was a 25-year veteran of the FDNY and only months from retirement. Her wake was Monday.
Witnesses said Frank and Catherine Fuoco were “courteous” to the mayor, but direct. Catherine Fuoco reportedly spoke up more than her husband during the confrontation.
“There was anger, and there was jokes, but they definitely let him have it,” an EMS worker who saw the exchange told the New York Post.
“You know what to do,” Catherine told Adams, a former NYPD captain now running the city, according to Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy. Kennedy told the Post she had also witnessed the interaction.
“Weren’t you a police officer for 30 years?” Catherine Fuoco asked, according to Kennedy’s account. When Adams agreed that he had been, Fuoco said, “You know what to do. Please, give me back my city.”
“It was courteous — they were saying what we’re saying: ‘Make my city better, make my city better,'” Kennedy told the Post. “[The mayor] stood there, his face was flat. At the end, he said some brief statements that were comforting and accepting of what was said to him.”
“Her mom and dad just took the mayor on,” Kennedy said.
Peter Zisopoulos has reportedly confessed to stabbing Russo-Elling 19 times and has been charged with second-degree murder, the Post reported. He was in custody for a psychiatric evaluation.
“It was totally unprovoked. There was no rhyme or reason. There was no back and forth,” a business owner who witnessed the attack told WCBS-TV. He said he’d previously seen the suspect wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood before.
The man appeared “unhinged” and “like he was on another planet,” the business owner added.
Vincent Variale, president of the FDNY Local 3621 union, said the EMT “was about six or seven months away from retirement,” as The Western Journal has previously reported. She had reportedly planned to spend the time with her daughter and grandchildren.
Russo-Elling was also one of the first responders at the World Trade Center on 9/11; she also aided in the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.
“Alison was the sweetest, kindest person you’ve ever met,” Variale said. “She was also very brave.”
Adams, a Democrat who ran on a law-and-order platform, previously called the attack senseless and heartbreaking.
“Every day they do their job, in a manner where many of us don’t realize how dangerous it is. She was doing her job and paid the ultimate sacrifice because of it,” he said.
Adams has been struggling to control the wave of serious crime that has followed the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, as it has in so many other cities.
Some of the news is good; according to city statistics, murders are down 12.1 percent year-to-date through August (although one must take into account the spike in killings the city saw in 2020 and 2021).
On the other hand, there was a 26 percent increase in index crime — serious crimes such rape, robbery and aggravated assault — in August of 2022 as compared to August of 2021. And while shootings have been down, overall crime has been up for the year.
While it would be a long hill to climb — should he ever decide to climb it — there are certainly steps the mayor could take to give the Fuocos their city back. And who knows how many lives he might save in so doing?
But it’s too late for these grieving parents. There’s nothing Adams can do to give their murdered daughter back to them.
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