CHICAGO (CBS) — An Aurora man who has created countless wooden crosses to pay tribute to victims of gun violence was traveling to Las Vegas on Wednesday to set up a memorial to the people killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Greg Zanis left in the middle of the night to begin 24-hour trek, after loading his truck with about 60 homemade crosses that will be erected in honor of the victims of the massacre on the Las Vegas Strip.
After the shooting, Zanis heard from relatives of a few of the victims who requested that he make crosses on behalf of their loved ones.
“I’m just doing what I can. I’m a carpenter doing something about it, trying to bring a face to this. When you see these lined up for 250 feet, it’s going to show the severity of what happened over there,” Zanis said.
Zanis has made crosses for other mass shootings, including the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando last year, the 2012 movie theater shooting in Colorado, and the 1999 high school massacre in Columbine. Earlier this year, Zanis also placed dozens of crosses in a vacant lot in Englewood, for victims of gun violence in Chicago.
His son said it normally would take Zanis about a week to make nearly 60 crosses, but he already had quite a few assembled.
Meantime, many of those wounded in the attack and those who escaped without any physical injuries have continued sharing stories of horror and survival.
A bullet just missed 41-year-old Michael Caster’s heart when he was wounded in the shooting.
“I was on the ground, and I could not move,” he said. “I had no feeling from the torso down.”
His girlfriend found a table to use as a gurney, and others helped carry him to a stranger’s car so they could take him to the hospital. Part of Caster’s lung has been removed, but doctors said he will walk again.
Kristin Babik also feared she would be paralyzed after a bullet that hit her lodged in her spine. She told CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell it felt like a water balloon hit her, but the water was blood.
“I couldn’t believe at the time that it was a gun, and I didn’t want to,” Babik said. “I started running towards the back, and I realized I couldn’t breathe.”
Babik said it felt like her future was fading away, until her doctor dissolved her fears.
“I kept asking him, ‘Am I going to be okay? All I want to do is graduate law school,’” she said. “When she told me the bullet was in my spine, or close to it, then my second question was, ‘Am I going to be paralyzed? Am I going to be able to walk again?’ And she told me when I woke up after they put the tube in my chest, ‘You’re going to graduate, and you’re going to be able to run a marathon. You’re going to run again.’”
Babik said surviving the massacre has renewed her sense of purpose to become a criminal prosecutor after she graduates in May.