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58 new crosses honoring Oct. 1 victims return to Las Vegas Strip

Updated September 30, 2019 - 10:57 pm

Greg Zanis placed 58 crosses near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign Monday night, an unexpected move after Clark County requested a change of venue.

Zanis, of suburban Chicago, placed the crosses at the memorial after the Oct. 1, 2017, Route 91 Harvest festival shooting, and again a year later. This year, the county asked that he instead place them outside the county government center downtown from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, citing pedestrian safety concerns.

This is part of an ongoing series observing the two-year anniversary of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. See all of our coverage here.

“We’re not going to cause any trouble; we just want to spread love to these families,” he said of his motivation for sticking to the script from previous years for “Crosses For Losses.” He added that he didn’t want to sound arrogant, but “I have a key to the city for doing this.”

He was referencing a key to the Strip that he was given for his efforts. Zanis makes and personalizes the crosses, each of which represent a person killed in the shooting.

Heather Semon was near the memorial Monday night with Leala Tyree and Devin Gray. All three were at the festival in 2017 and live in the Las Vegas area.

Semon said they helped a family whose daughter had been shot as gunfire rained down from the Mandalay Bay. The horrors remain fresh, two years later.

“As we were there, there was a family that was saying, ‘Please help me; we don’t have anywhere to go. … Please help; she’s going to die. So we were able to pick her up and pick them up, put them in the back of (Gray’s) truck and were able to get into UMC and able to basically save her life. They told us if it would have been 20 minutes longer, that she would have been another casualty.”

The trio didn’t identify the woman but said she’d been shot in the arm.

Instead of mourning a stranger’s passing, Semon, Tyree and Gray ended up with a new friend. Gray’s birthday is Oct. 1, and last year they celebrated by meeting up with the woman who had been shot. They planned to spend Tuesday with her as well.

The crowd of people viewing the crosses Monday night could be easily distinguished from the picture-taking collection of tourists who always can be found at the sign. Zanis said that as of 8:15 p.m., family members of at least 14 shooting victims had stopped by.

Michael and Leah Tuckman showed up to retrieve the cross created for Chris Roybal, a 28-year-old Navy veteran who was gunned down at the concert. They planned to give it to his mother, Debby Allen.

Michael Tuckman said he and his wife attended the first night of the concert in 2017, but she was concerned about the size of the crowd and had a bad feeling overall. They left, then learned of the shooting two days later.

They feel guilt over their good fortune, he said, adding that they show up for memorial events every year.

As for Roybal, “Chris served three tours in Afghanistan and never got a scratch on him, and then ironically he was shot and killed at a country concert,” he said.

Contact Alexis Egeland at aegeland@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexis_egeland on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Brian Sandford contributed to this report.

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