Retired carpenter plans to build a cross for every Chicago shooting victim

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CHICAGO -- For years, Greg Zanis has traveled to communities devastated by high-profile mass shootings to build personalized wooden crosses for those killed.

He built them for Columbine. For Aurora. Most recently, Zanis built 49 in Orlando after the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.

Now Zanis is bringing crosses to a city facing a different but equally disastrous situation: Chicago.

Zanis, a retired carpenter, has already built 40 wooden crosses in Chicago this year, each one in honor of a person's life lost in the city in 2017, according to WGN.

The crosses all have a heart, the victim's name and his or her age. Some have photos or signed messages from friends and family, WGN reports.

They all rest in a grassy lot in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, which is quickly filling up.

"This is going to look very crowded by the time we're done," Zanis told WGN.

He built more than 700 crosses in 2016 as Chicago dealt with the deadliest year of gun violence in 20 years. There were 762 homicides in Chicago last year, a sharp increase from the 496 in 2015.

Those wooden crosses were prominently displayed on New Year's Eve when Chicagoans marched through city streets holding the posts as part of a rally against violence.

"I don't have any answers, but this is just me doing something, showing that I care, showing that I love them," Zanis said.

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