NEW YORK – A 34-year-old Greek-American man detained in the vicious stabbing murder of a paramedic on an Astoria street corner in New York City wasn’t deemed medically fit for an arraignment and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.
Peter Zisopoulos has been at the Bellevue Prison Ward since being taken into custody on Sept. 30 after a video showed him knocking down Fire Department Lt. Alison Russo-Elling and stabbing her more than 20 times.
It shocked a city already enduring repeated instances of people said to have mental health issues attacking and killing people but unable to be prosecuted because of their condition.
Zisopoulos hasn’t been taken to court and isn’t talking, said The New York Post, reporting he wasn’t yet medically cleared to be sound of mind enough to face an arraignment, citing unnamed law enforcement sources.
He is charged with second-degree murder and weapon possession for the unprovoked attack that came after neighbors and residents in the area said he was a regular fixture walking up and down the streets mumbling to himself.
Zisopoulos has been remaining “super quiet” while locked up at the secure hospital facility and has not been saying much to anyone, sources familiar with the matter told the paper.
The report said he hasn’t confronted others while being observed or been difficult but is under mental observation to determine if he will even have to face a court over the killing.
“The accused killer murmured and spewed gibberish as he paced back and forth” in police custody, also reported the Daily News.
“This event has cut deep into our souls and has rippled to the first responder communities across the nation,” said FDNY EMS Chief Lillian Bonsignore. “We are heartbroken and we are very angry.”
“Pray for my family and remember her for the hero that she was,” said Russo-Elling’s daughter, Danielle Fuoco. “Because that’s truly who she was and she died doing what she loved,” said a report in New York magazine.
Russo-Elling, a 24-year veteran with the FDNY who worked as a paramedic out of EMS unit Station 49 in Astoria, was violently attacked around the corner from where she worked, just after getting a sandwich from a bodega.
In 2018, Zisopoulos was taken to the hospital for being emotionally disturbed after he allegedly made anti-Asian threats on Facebook, law enforcement sources said and was listed as being schizophrenic.