Man who hand-makes crosses to remember victims of tragedy sets up memorial in El Paso

Greg Zanis heading to Dayton next after Sunday's mass shooting

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter, Joe Herrera - Photojournalist

EL PASO, Texas - For years, Greg Zanis, from Illinois, has been hand-making crosses and other markers to remember the victims of tragedy.

The reason he makes the crosses is simply for the families.

“I’m giving you these crosses in 40 days, and they’re going to be full of messages and love,” he said.

Zanis has had a lot of experience traveling to places where tragedies have occurred. KSAT met him in 2016 when he went to Sutherland Springs following a mass shooting at First Baptist Church. He was also there for the aftermath of the Santa Fe school shooting.  And now, he’s in El Paso after a mass shooting at a Walmart in which 22 people were killed and more than two dozen others were injured.

“I’m sick and tired of coming to Texas,” he said.

Zanis has seen a lot of tragedy, but he said Monday has been the worst day. Not only does he need to go to Dayton, Ohio, where nine were killed and more than two dozen were injured in a mass shooting, but the death toll rose Monday in the El Paso shooting.

VIDEO: El Paso mourning lives of 22 people killed in mass shooting

“I made memorials this time for the survivors, and I’ve got to kick two of them off of there and put up two more crosses,” he said. “I don’t know how I can handle this day, but heck, I’m getting out of town.”

But Zanis will leave his crosses and continue to offer his support.

“Every time this happens and we gather up together and come down here and show support to these victims, we’re defeating the dang devil because we’re taking over the ground.” Zanis said.

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