Advertisement

Man who builds crosses for U.S. mass shootings: ‘I’ve been to way too many’

Click to play video 'Creator of crosses for mass shooting victims says responding to the tragedies is ‘like a day in hell’' Creator of crosses for mass shooting victims says responding to the tragedies is ‘like a day in hell’
WATCH: Greg Zanis, the creator of "Crosses for Losses," who creates crosses for the victims of mass shootings says for him to come to incidents like the El Paso shooting is "like a day in hell."

Greg Zanis is an invisible fixture at recent American tragedies.

In almost every city rocked by a mass shooting, the carpenter quietly slips into town and builds a gathering place for the community.

There’s never any fanfare or announcement. He just shows up.

“I’ve been to way too many shootings,” he said.

“Way too many.”

The iconic wooden white crosses, or Stars of David, etched with the names of victims are his work.

READ MORE: El Paso shooting death toll rises to 22 as victims succumb to injuries

They often appear mysteriously overnight along streets, boulevards or parking lots, near scenes of unspeakable violence.

Story continues below advertisement

“I just started building crosses as a way of showing people I know your pain, I know what you’re going through,” explained Zanis, who was says his life was changed by the 1996 murder of his father-in-law.

Since then, Zanis has made and delivered the markers to the scenes of mass shootings in cities across the United States. He has branded his work “Crosses for Losses,” and his resume of tragedy includes visits to Las Vegas, Parkland, Fla., Orlando, and Pittsburgh, among many other places.

He has also made the crosses for the hundreds of victims of gun violence in his home city of Chicago.

WATCHL: (Aug. 4, 2019) El Paso shooting rampage treated as domestic terrorism

Click to play video 'El Paso shooting rampage treated as domestic terrorism' El Paso shooting rampage treated as domestic terrorism
El Paso shooting rampage treated as domestic terrorism

It has become a dark calling — and it’s one that has now brought him to El Paso, Texas.

Story continues below advertisement

The 2,100-kilometre drive took him 24 hours.

In the end, he delivered 22 new crosses to the site of the latest tragedy, bringing the grim total of his life’s work to 26,810 wooden markers.

“I think of the people, I don’t think of the numbers,” he said, unloading the crosses in a parking lot behind the El Paso Walmart where the shooting took place.

READ MORE: 9 killed, 27 injured in Ohio during second mass shooting in U.S. within 24 hours

Ultimately, he says, he’s here to let the victims know they’re not alone.

“I give them something to go to and a place where we can all meet,” he said.

He only planned to stay in El Paso for a couple of hours, before hitting the highway again to service the tragedy in Dayton, Ohio.

WATCH: (Aug. 4, 2019) Ohio mass shooting leaves 9 people dead, including gunman

Click to play video 'Ohio mass shooting leaves 9 people dead, including gunman' Ohio mass shooting leaves 9 people dead, including gunman
Ohio mass shooting leaves 9 people dead, including gunman

He feels his job is to bring comfort and awareness, but the one thing he’s not able to deliver to the grief-stricken is hope.

Story continues below advertisement

He lamented America’s epidemic of gun violence as an unsolvable situation.

“Don’t be silly, this is a cancer,” he said, when asked if he ever there would ever be a day when he didn’t need to make more crosses.

“I’m scared to wake up tomorrow, and so are you.”