LONGWOOD, Fla. -- Monday, Oct. 1, will mark one year since 58 people were shot and killed during a music festival in Las Vegas.
- Oct. 1 will mark 1 year since Las Vegas shooting
- Jeff Sonksen is installing memorial for victims
Jeff Sonksen, who’s known for his “Paint the Trail” paintings all over Central Florida, is marking the grim anniversary by installing a memorial to the victims near a busy intersection in Longwood.
Like so many people, Sonksen was affected by the horrific shooting.
“It was breaking news, and they were showing a lot of chaos stuff,” said Sonksen. “Hard to fathom somebody did that on purpose.”
Before Sonksen could wrap his head around what happened, he picked up his brushes and started painting.
“It’s hard to remember exactly why I did it, but, this is a reminder to people,” said Sonksen.
Over the last year, Sonksen worked on painting the faces of each of the 58 victims. He says creating a memorial has helped him realize the scope of what happened.
“I don’t think you get the picture until you see all of their faces,” said Sonksen.
Sonksen also created paintings that were used to memorialize victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando. He says recent mass shootings have made him realize how his son and daughter are growing up in a different world than he did.
“I grew up in Iowa and my parents didn’t know where I was,” said Sonksen. “You know, ‘be home when the streetlights come on.’ We don’t live in those times anymore.”
But he says his work is mostly meant to help others who are still trying to heal from the tragedy in Las Vegas.
“Some people probably haven’t healed up any more today than the day it happened almost a year ago,” said Sonksen.
Sonksen has been finishing up the memorial paintings at his home. He plans on installing it near the intersection of Longwood Hills Road and Ronald Reagan Boulevard on Sunday, Sept. 30, in time for the Oct. 1 anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting.
The memorial will join other paintings Sonksen has already installed along the sidewalk at near the intersection, which include paintings of celebrities that have died this year and tributes to local law enforcement officers who’ve died in the line of duty.
The man who opened fire in Las Vegas also took his own life. To this day, investigators haven’t found a motive for carrying out the shooting.