After the Oct. 1 Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting that left 58 dead in Las Vegas, Kevin Russell, owner of American Fabrication in Bakersfield, knew he had to do something, so he built crosses for each victim.
“We’re up to probably about 38 people,” Russell said. “We put their own, whatever they want to put on the plaque, the family does it.”
Now, after 17 lives were lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Valentine’s Day, Russell and his crew got to work once again.
“I can’t imagine what those people felt,” Russell said. “Their kids, 13, 14-year-old, you get a phone call and they’re massacred.”
Russell and his team had originally planned on making 17 crosses, but ultimately decided on one big cross, with 17 names adorned with an eagle — the school’s mascot — at the top.
“I felt this would get their attention,” Russell said. “We’ll just send it to school and they can put it there and they should have it forever.”
Russell’s employees, like Chris Burgos, donated their time and talent to making the memorial.
“We just did it for the families, you know,” Burgos said. “I mean our hearts go out to them. It’s the unfortunate events that happen and we just hope the best for them, you know, we want to show them that we care, there are people that care out there.”
The cross will be loaded onto a truck Monday morning along with a letter, written by Russell’s daughter, and will arrive by Friday.
Russell said the school does not know the cross is coming.