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Man who traveled across the nation delivering crosses for victims of mass shootings has retired

The man who spent a quarter of a century helping thousands across the country heal is retiring from his self-appointed role of creating crosses for shooting victims, he confirmed to ABC-7.

"Our country experiences this so much," Greg Zanis told ABC-7 over the phone. It's the norm. It's a warzone."

Through his organization, "Crosses for Losses," Zanis has delivered and built more than 26,000 crosses to communities across the country.

The memorial project began in 1996. Zanis has made crosses for many towns impacted by shootings, including the shooting that happened in his hometown of Aurora, Colorado, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, the Sandy Hook shooting and the Las Vegas shooting.

Zanis told ABC-7 that he reached a "breaking point" in August when the communities of El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, experienced mass shootings just hours apart.

"I'm there to bring peace, to show love and to unite us," Zanis said. "I didn't know what to expect when I got there... but I got unconditional love and people supporting me."

He originally made 20 crosses for El Paso's massacre, but grew emotionally disturbed as the number of victims rose.

"(Someone said) 'No, Greg. Two people have died. It's 22 now,'" he recalled. "I - I was at Hooters. I just collapsed," Zanis said. "I couldn't handle the stress anymore."

That week was the first time Zanis had to drive from one shooting location directly to another in Dayton Ohio where nine people were killed.

Zanis told CNN he never pushes Christianity. Instead he said he scans their obituaries to determine whether he should bring crosses, stars of David or crescent moons.

While he is retiring, the work Zanis does is not going anywhere. Zanis tells ABC-7 he is working with several organizations to train them to create the crosses he delivers. He is also planning to make several hundred to drop off in several major cities in California, Texas and Florida in the case of another shooting.

ABC-7'S Brittany Carlock contributed to this report.

El Paso / Texas / US & World

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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