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After making 27,000 crosses to honor the victims killed in mass shootings, Greg Zannis is moving on


The retired carpenter, who is 69, will teach others to make the memorials, then turn his attention to restoring an old, old limousine he’s had for a while.

“I am tired,” he told CNN on Thursday night. “I suffer a lot when I do (the crosses). It’s very hard on me. I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.”

He will be handing over the ministry to Lutheran Church Charities, whose 135 churches will take over the building and distribution of the crosses.

“It’s a great day for the Lord,” he said.

Zanis began building the crosses in 1996, when he found his father-in-law murdered. When he talked with CNN in August he said he has built 26,680.

58 crosses are back on the Las Vegas Strip on the anniversary of America's deadliest modern shooting

He estimates 21,000 were for shooting victims. He’s also taken his white crosses to the aftermath of tornadoes and wildfires, bus and boat crashes, and to Martha’s Vineyard after John F. Kennedy Jr. and his relatives died in a plane crash.

Each one took about an hour to make.

“I feel like I’ve united people to love each other,” he said. “I feel that I brought the country together. Instead of these shootings being full of hate, we made them about love. … I’ve broken down a lot of barriers.”

Zanis brought wooden crosses to the Walmart in El Paso, Texas, where dozens of people were killed in August.

Zanis is a religious man. He grew up Greek Orthodox and spent many years as a Baptist, though he’s quick to chuckle about his delinquent days “smoking pot and sleeping in the van” in Key West and racing his Pontiac Trans Am in the cross-country Cannonball Run made famous in the Burt Reynolds film.

The shootings, he believes — and he knows the belief is unpopular — are the consequence of a country that forgot God, beginning in 1962 with the US Supreme Court decision to outlaw official prayer in school, he said.

“When you take God out, why should God help us?” he asked. “I think it’s real simple: a second generation of godless people. We don’t have to have a conscience. … You think any of these people were men of any kind of faith who do the shootings? No.”

The victims’ religions, however, didn’t matter to Zanis. He’d scans their obituaries to determine whether he should bring crosses, Stars of David or crescent moons. He’s memorialized Buddhists and atheists, as well.

The breaking point for Zanis came in February when a gunman killed five people in his hometown of Aurora, Illinois.

He knew something was wrong when dozens of law enforcement vehicles, sirens screaming, rocketed by his house. About 15 minutes later, Zanis’ daughter called saying there was a shooting.

Zanis drove from El Paso to Dayton, Ohio, and set up memorials there.

He would make five more crosses for that tragedy.

“I was blindsided, and I didn’t think it could happen,” he said. “I’ve been living in a curtain of darkness since it happened in my hometown.”

His final trip was to Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, a city north of Los Angeles, where he delivered two crosses. He dropped off 100 crosses at a Lutheran church in Las Vegas on the way home, so they could begin taking over his duties.

Zanis plans to turn a trailer into a mobile workshop so he can travel around the country teaching members of the Lutheran church how to build the memorials.

In Sutherland Springs, Texas, 25 people were killed in November 2017.

Tim Hetzner, president and chief executive officer of Lutheran Church Charities, told CNN that Zanis called him Thursday to inform him of his decision. They still need to work out some details.

“God must have a plan because I sure don’t,” he quipped. “To further what Greg has done for 20 years, we’re honored to be able to do that.”

Hetzner said 135 Lutheran churches in 26 states train comfort dogs and take them to various tragedies.

He said those churches will continue and expand Zanis’ ministry. They also don’t care about religious affiliations.

“We serve people in all situations and all of types of backgrounds and we’re not called to judge people,” he said. “We’re there to bring comfort and mercy to people who have suffered a loss.”

While the charity takes over, Zanis will move on to restoring a shot-up 1927 Cadillac Imperial stretch limousine of a Chicago gangster.

Asked whether he thought it was strange to spend years honoring victims of violence then restore a car that once belonged to a violent man, and Zanis said, “It is odd, but it’s the Mona Lisa of Cadillacs, a rare classic.”

His original intent was to start working on the car when he retired, but he took up cross-building instead.

Now, he’ll finally work on the car, which has smoke-screen capability and drop-down metal curtains with gun ports and full armor, including on the roof, radiator and gas tank. It had 22 bullet holes in its armor when he first got it 45 years ago.

“It will help me get my mind off this,” he said, explaining it will be a full-time job more than a hobby. “I’m a workaholic.”

CNN’s Paul P. Murphy contributed to this report.



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Spate of shootings leaves two dead, seven wounded in North Carolina city


(Reuters) – Police in High Point, North Carolina, searched for clues and suspects on Wednesday in a spate of shootings that have left two people dead and seven others wounded over two days, including a Christmas Eve drive-by attack outside a strip mall.

Tuesday afternoon’s burst of gunfire from a passing car on a group of about a dozen people gathered in a parking lot outside the shopping strip sent six men to the hospital, three of them initially listed in critical condition, police said.

By Wednesday, all six victims were listed in stable condition, but investigators had yet to identify any suspects or the vehicle involved, High Point Police Department Captain Chris Weisner told Reuters.

Even the gender of the two individuals in the car – a driver and passenger – remained uncertain, he said.

In addition, Weisner said, investigators were looking into the possibility that Wednesday’s drive-by attack was connected to a separate shooting the night before in which one of two victims, a man aged 27, died the next day.

“There’s no known connection, but they’re looking to see if there is a link” between the two shootings, the police captain said, adding that no arrests had been made in either incident.

A third shooting that killed an 18-year-old victim early on Christmas Eve is believed to be an isolated incident, according to Weisner. He said “some arrests” were made in that investigation on Wednesday but declined to give further details.

Weisner acknowledged that the flurry of gun violence was unusual in such “a short time frame” for High Point, a municipality of about 112,000 people that lies between Winston-Salem and Greensboro in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina.

High Point, long known as a manufacturing hub in the state’s once-vibrant furniture industry, has been hit hard economically over the past two decades by competition from abroad and from elsewhere in the United States.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Culver City, Calif.; Editing by Sandra Maler



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Spate of shootings leave two dead, seven wounded in North Carolina city


(Reuters) – Police in High Point, North Carolina, searched for clues and suspects on Wednesday in a spate of shootings that have left two people dead and seven others wounded over two days, including a Christmas Eve drive-by attack outside a strip mall.

Tuesday afternoon’s burst of gunfire from a passing car on a group of about a dozen people gathered in a parking lot outside the shopping strip sent six men to the hospital, three of them initially listed in critical condition, police said.

By Wednesday, all six victims were listed in stable condition, but investigators had yet to identify any suspects or the vehicle involved, High Point Police Department Captain Chris Weisner told Reuters.

Even the gender of the two individuals in the car – a driver and passenger – remained uncertain, he said.

In addition, Weisner said, investigators were looking into the possibility that Wednesday’s drive-by attack was connected to a separate shooting the night before in which one of two victims, a man aged 27, died the next day.

“There’s no known connection, but they’re looking to see if there is a link” between the two shootings, the police captain said, adding that no arrests had been made in either incident.

A third shooting that killed an 18-year-old victim early on Christmas Eve is believed to be an isolated incident, according to Weisner. He said “some arrests” were made in that investigation on Wednesday but declined to give further details.

Weisner acknowledged that the flurry of gun violence was unusual in such “a short time frame” for High Point, a municipality of about 112,000 people that lies between Winston-Salem and Greensboro in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina.

High Point, long known as a manufacturing hub in the state’s once-vibrant furniture industry, has been hit hard economically over the past two decades by competition from abroad and from elsewhere in the United States.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Culver City, Calif.; Editing by Sandra Maler



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Spate of shootings leave 2 dead, 7 wounded in North Carolina city


(Reuters) – Police in High Point, North Carolina, searched for clues and suspects on Wednesday in a spate of shootings that have left two people dead and seven others wounded over two days, including a Christmas Eve drive-by attack outside a strip mall.

Tuesday afternoon’s burst of gunfire from a passing car on a group of about a dozen people gathered in a parking lot outside the shopping strip sent six men to the hospital, three of them initially listed in critical condition, police said.

By Wednesday, all six victims were listed in stable condition, but investigators had yet to identify any suspects or the vehicle involved, High Point Police Department Captain Chris Weisner told Reuters.

Even the gender of the two individuals in the car – a driver and passenger – remained uncertain, he said.

In addition, Weisner said, investigators were looking into the possibility that Wednesday’s drive-by attack was connected to a separate shooting the night before in which one of two victims, a man aged 27, died the next day.

“There’s no known connection, but they’re looking to see if there is a link” between the two shootings, the police captain said, adding that no arrests had been made in either incident.

A third shooting that killed an 18-year-old victim early on Christmas Eve is believed to be an isolated incident, according to Weisner. He said “some arrests” were made in that investigation on Wednesday but declined to give further details.

Weisner acknowledged that the flurry of gun violence was unusual in such “a short time frame” for High Point, a municipality of about 112,000 people that lies between Winston-Salem and Greensboro in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina.

High Point, long known as a manufacturing hub in the state’s once-vibrant furniture industry, has been hit hard economically over the past two decades by competition from abroad and from elsewhere in the United States.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Culver City, Calif.; Editing by Sandra Maler



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At least 28 people were wounded in 3 separate shootings across these 3 states this weekend


Law enforcement agencies in all three incidents have not arrested or named any suspects in the separate shootings as of Monday morning.

Investigators have asked witnesses and those with information or video to reach out to authorities.

The shooting happened after a dispute broke out at the party around 12:35 a.m. Sunday in the 5700 block of S. May Street, police said.

Police respond to a shooting on S. May St. in Chicago early Sunday morning.

“Shots were fired within the residence, which caused everyone to start to leave,” Waller said.

The victims, ranging in age from 16 to 48, suffered various injuries and were transported to area hospitals for treatment. Four victims were in critical condition Sunday, according to the Chicago Police Major Incident Notification website.

No suspect information was available but police say two persons of interest were taken in for questioning.

Police also arrested a man seen fleeing the area of the shooting who has since been charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, according to a Chicago Police Department press release. Police could not confirm that his arrest was in connection with the shooting. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Sunday afternoon, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot admonished the violence occurring in her city. “This kind of violence is simply not going to be tolerated in our city,” Lightfoot told reporters after visiting shooting victims and family members.

She urged anyone with information to come forward, saying someone “inside that room knows exactly who the shooters were.”

7 people shot while waiting to get into a Baltimore lounge

Within hours of the Chicago shooting, seven people were shot and injured as they waited to get into a lounge in downtown Baltimore.

As many as four suspects are being sought in the shooting, Baltimore Police Col. Rich Worley said Sunday.

Worley said two shooters exited a car near the lounge just after 2 a.m. Sunday and began firing on those waiting in line.

One man had a handgun while a second had a rifle. A total of nineteen shots were fired, Worley said. Those injured, ages 17 to 27, were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

The car the suspects arrived in was recovered but had been set on fire, according to Worley.

One person was killed and seven others were injured in a shooting in Minnesota within hours of the other two shootings, police said.

A 19-year-old man dies in Minnesota shooting

Shortly after midnight Sunday morning, police responded to a shooting in the parking lot of the Dala Thai Restaurant and Banquet Hall in Spring Lake Park, about 12 miles north of Minneapolis.

One man is dead and 7 others are injured in a shooting outside Minneapolis.
Multiple agencies responded to the shooting and discovered victims ranging in age from 19 to 38 suffering from gunshot wounds. Chai Yang, 19, was killed in the shooting while seven other shooting victims suffered from non-life threatening injuries, according to a press release from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities are asking any bystanders of the shooting who may have video of the incident to reach out to investigators, the release said.

CNN’s Alta Spells, Melissa Alonso, Shawn Nottingham and Brad Parks contributed to this story.



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School shootings list 2019 – CNN



Since there is no single definition for what qualifies as a school shooting, CNN set the following parameters:

At least two students were killed and several injured in a shooting at Saugus High School. The 16-year-old shooter is in police custody. As of November 14, he was in grave condition.

November 11
Baltimore

A 19-year-old student was shot by a masked gunman while getting out of a car at Achievement Academy, a high school. His injuries were non-life-threatening. Authorities believe an altercation occurred between the victim and shooter.

November 5
Langston, Oklahoma

A man was shot in the leg outside a dorm on the Langston University campus. He was taken via helicopter to an Oklahoma City hospital.

November 4
Warrensburg, Missouri

A University of Central Missouri student was shot and killed after a gun was accidentally discharged in an on-campus apartment.

November 3
Waco, Texas

A 30-year-old student was shot in the chest and killed in a Texas State Technical College housing facility. Police believe the 20-year-old shooter and the victim were involved in a relationship dispute that turned into a physical fight.

October 27
Clarksville, Tennessee

A 22-year-old man was shot and killed outside an Austin Peay State University residence hall. Police believe the incident was a drug deal gone wrong.

October 27
Laurel, Maryland

A 38-year-old woman was shot during a nighttime gathering in the parking lot of Laurel Woods Elementary School, police say.

October 22
Santa Rosa, California

A 16-year old student was shot by another student outside Ridgway High School in what police believe to be a gang-related incident. The victim was taken to the hospital and later released.

October 18
Grambling, Louisiana

A student and a police officer were shot and injured in a Grambling State University assembly center. During an event, two men were involved in an altercation when one produced a gun and shot the other twice in the chest. As police tried to intervene, an officer was shot in the leg.

Both victims were transported to the hospital. The officer sustained non-life-threatening injuries, while the other man was in critical condition.

October 13
Nashville

A 19-year-old student was shot in the abdomen and killed in a Tennessee State University dorm. The incident occurred after an 18-year-old classmate discharged a stolen gun he was playing with. The shooter and victim thought the gun was a pellet gun.

October 11
Rayne, Louisiana

After a football game at Rayne High School’s stadium let out, multiple shots were fired into the parking lot, according to police. One person was hit and taken to the hospital. Police have arrested the men believed to be involved in the shooting.

October 9
Lowell, Massachusetts

Two men entered the playground at Greenhalge Elementary School and shot indiscriminately at children with BB guns, hitting five children. Two injured children were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

October 8
Houston

A gun was discharged after school hours at Westbury High School, injuring one student.

September 20
Orangeburg, South Carolina

Two women were shot outside a South Carolina State University residential building, according to university officials. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

September 16
Fayetteville, North Carolina

A 20-year-old former college football player was found with numerous gunshot wounds on Fayetteville State University‘s campus. He was taken to the hospital in serious condition.

September 14
Fort Worth, Texas

A woman and a girl were injured when a fight between a group of parents led to a shooting at an Eastern Hills Elementary School football game, police said.

September 13
Newport News, Virginia

A teenager was shot outside Todd Stadium after a Newport News High School football game ended. The stadium is owned by Newport News Public Schools.

August 30
Toledo, Ohio

A 16-year-old was shot following an altercation as crowds left a high school football game at Central Catholic High School, police say.

August 30
Mobile, Alabama

At least 10 teenagers were injured in a shooting at Lad Peebles Stadium during a football game between LeFlore High School and Williamson High School.

August 27
Los Angeles

A boy was shot in the jaw while waiting in line for school lunch at Hollenbeck Middle School. Authorities believe the shots came from off school campus.

August 24
Philadelphia

On a playground at William C. Longstreth Elementary School, a teenager was shot in the back of the head. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition where he would later die.

August 23
Conyers, Georgia

A 12-year-old boy was shot at Peek’s Chapel Elementary School and rushed to the hospital. Another 15-year-old boy was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery in connection with the event.

July 11
Hartford, Connecticut

A man, 34, was riding his bike through a Bulkeley High School parking lot when he was shot at least once. He died from his injuries.

July 2
Anchorage, Alaska

A 22-year-old shot a teenager at the basketball court of Williwaw Elementary School after a fight broke out among a group of people, according to authorities. The teen was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries but survived.

July 1
Bronx, New York

A 13-year-old boy was shot in the chest at the School of Science and Applied Learning‘s playground. He was transported to the hospital in serious but stable condition.

June 21
Flint, Michigan

A 15-year-old student was critically injured in a shooting at a parking lot outside Carman-Ainsworth High School. The incident happened after a fight among dozens of students had broken out on school property and expanded to the area where the teen was shot, according to police.

June 6
Chicago

A 25-year-old man was playing basketball at Genevieve Melody STEM Elementary School when he was shot in the leg, the Chicago Police Department told CNN.

May 17
Jacksonville, Florida

A student was shot during a spring football game at Terry Parker High School. The victim was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, but police later said he was in stable condition.

May 7
Savannah, Georgia

One Savannah State University student was shot near a campus residential facility and transported to a hospital. The student was expected to recover. The alleged shooter was not a student.

May 7
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

One student died and eight others were injured in a shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch. Two male students were charged with murder and attempted murder; one of them told police he sought to target classmates who had bullied him.

May 4
Eugene, Oregon

A 21-year-old man died from a gunshot wound after being shot in a parking lot near a fraternity house at the University of Oregon.

April 30
Charlotte, North Carolina

A gunman opened fire on the final day of classes at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, killing two people and wounding four others — three of them critically, authorities said. The shooter, 22, was a former student.

April 1
Prescott, Arkansas

A student shot a fellow 8th-grade student in the hallway of Prescott High School, sheriff’s deputies said. The injured boy was airlifted to the hospital. The school district said the shooting appeared to be a premeditated attack.

March 27
Lexington, Mississippi

A 10-year-old student riding the bus home from Holmes County Elementary School was injured after he was struck by a bullet in his left hand. It’s unclear where the bullet came from. The fifth-grader said another student on the bus shot him, but the school district said the bus was the target of a drive-by shooting.

March 7
Grambling, Louisiana

A gun accidentally discharged in a Grambling State University dorm, injuring one student.

February 26
Montgomery, Alabama

A 17-year-old student at Robert E. Lee High School was shot in the arm in the school’s gym. The student’s injury was non-life-threatening. Authorities said the suspect was a minor and likely a fellow student.

February 17
Centennial, Colorado

A 46-year-old man was shot multiple times by his neighbor at Eaglecrest High School amid an ongoing argument over a parking spot. The victim died from his injuries.

February 12
Kansas City, Missouri

A 15-year-old girl was shot outside Central Academy of Excellence during a basketball game. Police said the victim had fought with two shooting suspects, 21 and 18, during the game. The suspects were escorted out of the game and allegedly shot the girl when she left the building a short time later.

February 8
Baltimore

A Frederick Douglass High School staff member was seriously injured after a 25-year-old man entered the school and shot him. The shooter is a family member of the victim, police said.

January 31
Humble, Texas

A 16-year-old student was shot at Atascocita High School while trying to buy marijuana from a 17-year-old student, sheriff’s deputies said. The student who was shot suffered non-life-threatening wounds, and police identified the shooter after he posted about the incident on Snapchat.

January 31
Memphis, Tennessee

A 14-year-old student at Manassas High School ROTC was sent to the hospital for injuries after he was shot with a pellet gun at school.

January 30
Lithonia, Georgia

A man was injured when he was shot outside Miller Grove High School after school hours. The victim, who was not a student, was running on the school’s track when he saw someone trying to break into his vehicle. When he confronted the man, he was shot once, police said.

January 25
Mobile, Alabama

Two men, ages 17 and 20, got into an altercation outside W.P. Davidson High School that led to the exchange of gunfire, police said. Both were injured. At least one of the men was not a student at the school, the principal said.

January 7
Belmont, California

A 17-year-old high school student was fatally shot outside Central Elementary School. Police said the victim knew the shooter and it was not a random crime.



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Police Attribute Number Of Shootings Involving Teens In South Philly To Potential Turf War – CBS Philly


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police say a new age turf war on social media is spilling into South Philadelphia neighborhoods, putting families in the crossfire. Police attribute a number of shootings to teenagers with guns who are shooting indiscriminately.

On a picturesque Friday evening, Dickinson Square Park in South Philadelphia was packed with families, dog walkers and neighbors enjoying the weather.

“It’s nice to have a park for the children,” South Philly resident Denise Johnson said.

(Credit: CBS3)

But in the back of everyone’s mind is safety because police say two shootings involving teenagers in the past week alone have rocked this neighborhood.

“We have noticed recently an uptick in gun violence,” Philadelphia Police Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said. “One on Monday, where a young man was shot in the area of 4th and Dickinson (Streets).”

The second was early Thursday morning. Multiple casings were found, but fortunately, in this case, no one was injured.

“I know there has been an indication of maybe a turf war,” Kinebrew said. “We do believe it’s related to some sort of rivalry between groups that congregate or hang in the area.”

Kinebrew says the beef may be fueled by social media.

“Once I post it and other people share it, then now you got, in your mind, the whole world picking on you, disrespecting you,” he said. “And then you and your friends now want to get on social media and respond and it goes up from there. A lot of times it becomes a game of chicken. Who’s going to blink first?”

“I know the neighborhood. I always feel safe and comfortable,” Johnson said, “but unfortunately, you always have the bad apples.”

“It’s definitely scary,” a South Philadelphia man said. “We come here a lot, almost every day.”

So now neighbors are on edge as police are stepping up patrols in the neighborhood.

Everyone is hoping the fighting and shootings will simply stop.

“We definitely have to get a handle on this before we have any more tragic outcomes,” Kinebrew said.

On Tuesday, Kinebrew held a community meeting in the 3rd District, telling neighbors he’s deploying more bicycles and patrol officers to the area.

No arrests have been made in either shooting.



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3 arrested in Philadelphia shootings of 2 children


Freddie Perez and Tayvon Thomas were arrested in the death of Nikolette Rivera, Philadelphia police said. The toddler was killed Sunday when someone fired a 7.62 mm rifle into a home in Kensington, in northern Philadelphia, hitting her in the back of the head. She died at the scene.

Francisco Ortiz was arrested Thursday in the shooting of the 11-month-old child, who remains in “very, very bad condition,” said Philadelphia police Capt. Nicholas Brown.

The baby was shot four times while sitting in a vehicle Saturday in the city’s Hunting Park area around 8 p.m., Brown said. The baby was hit once in the head, once in the neck and twice in the buttocks with rounds from a 9 mm gun, he said.

Police arrested Perez Tuesday in Chester, Pennsylvania, and Thomas was arrested Thursday in Philadelphia. Both were charged with murder, nine counts of attempted murder, criminal conspiracy and related offenses, police said.

Perez had 17 previous arrests, including 11 related to narcotics, Philadelphia police Capt. Jason Smith said. Thomas had nine prior arrests, according to Smith.

Ortiz was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and related offenses, police said.

Nikolette’s mother, who was holding the 2-year-old when she was hit, was shot in the arm and a bullet grazed her head, police said after the shootings. A man who had been in the house to clean carpets was shot in the abdomen. Three other small children and the girl’s grandmother were also in the house at the time.

The motivation for both shootings appears to be to disputes over territory between rival drug dealers, according to police.



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