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 and his crew got to work building crosses for each victim.
“We put their own,” Russell said. “Whatever they want to put on the plaque, the family does it.”
After another mass shooting took the lives of 17 students and staff members at marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Valentine’s Day, Russell and his team went to work 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.”
A 7-foot-tall, red and white cross stands with 17 names etched into a plaque adorned with an eagle, the school’s mascot, at the top.
“We’ll just send it to school and they can put it there and they should have it forever,” Russell said.
Employees donating their time and talent to make each memorial.
“Everybody is pitching in,” programmer Joseph Jackson said. “We do it on the clock, off the clock, just whenever. We are doing it together.”
The cross was packed into a hand-made metal box Wednesday afternoon, and loaded onto a truck headed to Florida.
“We just did it for the families. Our hearts go out to them,” operator Chris Burgos said. “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 is expect to arrive at the school early next week. The shipping was donated by Praxair Welding, Gas and Supply Store.
A letter was sent along with the cross, offering personalized crosses to each victim’s family to remember their loved one.