Chicago man brings crosses to Orlando to honor victims of nightclub shooting

Mourners say love will ultimately prevail

ORLANDO, Fla. – People from all over the country are traveling to Orlando to pay their respects to the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

"This is unspeakable. What can make someone do something like this?" said Mike Ramos, who is from Miami but now lives in Orlando.

A man from Illinois, Greg Zanis, drove down to bring 49 white crosses to Orlando, each bearing the name of one of the victims.

"I had to kneel at every one of these crosses and give my prayer," Ramos said. "It's just unbelievable."

"There was a soldier among the deceased," Ramos added. "I'm a retired soldier, and you fight for your country, you come back home, you think you're safe and no, the war is still here."

Zanis' crosses also bear the face of each victim who was killed at the gay nightclub Pulse Orlando.

"Just coming from Chicago saying, 'I love you. You guys need to love each other too,'" Zanis said.

Krystle Williams was a friend of one of the victims, Eddie Justice.

"When I met him, he'd light up the room," Williams said. "He was one of the most wonderful people you'd ever want to meet."

Ernesto Vergne is a nurse at Orlando Regional Medical Center. He said he's still helping treat victims of Sunday's shooting.

Vergne said he was working the night the mass trauma advisory was issued. The faces of two of his close friends, Xavier Serrano and Angel Candelario-Padro, are now fixed to two of the crosses.

"It was a really beautiful gesture. He did a really nice job," Vergne said about the crosses.

On the other side of the city, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer applauded the nearly three dozen agencies staffing the Family Assistance Center, which was set up to help those affected by the shooting.

"We're showing the world, in fact, that we are Orlando united," Dyer said.

As of Friday morning, the mayor said 94 families, consisting of more than 200 people, have been helped at the center.

Crystal Alvarez, who recently moved to Orlando from Miami, knew two people who were killed in the shooting.

"We're not going to let this stop us," Alvarez said. "We're not going to let this stop our love, because love is going to be way stronger than this."


About the Author:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.