By Reuven Fenton and Mark Lungariello
The elderly parents of the FDNY lieutenant stabbed to death in an unprovoked Queens attack bashed surging violence in the city Friday, saying “it’s not stopping” and is “costing people their lives.”
Paramedic Alison Russo-Elling, 61, phoned her mother and father daily to check in on them but didn’t get the chance Thursday – when a madman fatally stabbed her 19 times in Astoria, grieving mom Catherine Fuoco, 85, told The Post.
“Every day she called. Yesterday, she didn’t call,” Fuoco said, with her husband Frank, 87, sitting behind her in a wheelchair in the couple’s Commack, LI, home.
“It’s a terrible, terrible thing that had to happen to her, and it’s not stopping, that’s the bad part,” Fuoco said of crime.
“It’s continuing, and it’s costing people their lives. It seems there’s no escaping it.”
“People who work in the city don’t want to go into the city anymore because of what’s happening, not only on the subways [but] on the streets,” she added. “They’re groping women. There are naked men. They’re doing all kinds of dastardly deeds.”
NYPD statistics showed weekly spikes throughout the summer in almost every category of major crime in the city except murders and rapes when compared to the same period last year.
Critics have largely blamed the mayhem on the state’s controversial bail-reform laws, saying they create a revolving door of justice that dumps violent criminals back on the streets.
Russo-Elling was a 25-year-veteran of the FDNY who was among the responders to the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She could have retired but chose not to, even though she had some run-ins over the years, her mom said.
“She was even debating whether or not to retire next year because she was so dedicated. She loved her work,” Fuoco said.
“She loved it from the day she started. She’s been spit on. She’s been punched. She’s been bitten by people who have HIV. She had to go through all the testings. It’s not an easy job when you’re out there in the trenches because you don’t know who you’re dealing with. And then this guy — he came up behind her.
“She was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” the mom said.
“This was a girl who saved other people’s lives, only for her to be taken from us like this.”
Scores of uniformed service members lined the street outside the Medical Examiner’s Office in Manhattan on Friday, standing in grim salute as the victim’s body was taken away.
Cops say Peter Zisopoulos, 34, randomly followed Russo-Elling on the street, slammed her to the ground and then repeatedly stabbed her on 20th Avenue and 41st Street at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
The victim – affectionately called “mother of the station” by her coworkers at Astoria Station 49 — had been going to the store and grabbing a bite to eat when she was killed.
Zisopoulos is now facing murder and weapons possession charges, cops said.
“She meant everything to us. She was well-liked by everyone,” Fuoco said, her voice cracking with emotion. “She will be missed terribly.”
Russo-Elling’s father noted how caring their daughter was.
“She was worried about us,” he said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s did not respond to a Post request for comment on the victim’s parents’ concerns about crime but noted that flags on state buildings would fly at half-staff till after Russo-Elling’s funeral.
“Our hearts are with her family as we honor her life and remember her as a hero. I know all New Yorkers are grateful for her service over more than two decades with FDNY and as a World Trade Center first responder,” Hochul said in a statement.
Meanwhile, hundreds of FDNY members attended a bunting ceremony at Station 49 Friday to memorialize Russo-Elling, with many of her coworkers seen breaking into tears and sharing hugs in their grief.
-Additional reporting by Zach Williams