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Families of Waffle House shooting victims thank hero James Shaw Jr.

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(Courtesy of TSU)

The families of the young people killed and injured in the Waffle House shooting got the chance to thank hero James Shaw Jr. on Tuesday.

Tennessee State University hosts a ceremony on Tuesday for the families as well as Shaw Jr. and his mother. Shaw is a Nashville native and attended TSU.

Shaw is credited with stifling the shooter's actions by throwing his rifle behind the counter of the Waffle House when he stopped to reload. Four young people died and at least four others were injured in the April 22 shooting.

TSU said those at Tuesday's event echoed the praise Shaw has received from those around the nation; the selfless hero saved countless lives with his quick-thinking during the tragedy.

“Had you not been there, everybody in that building would have been killed,” said Renee Hampton, the aunt of 24-year-old Sharita Henderson, who was wounded in the shooting. “I just want to say thank you.”

Shaw has said he plans to use the notoriety he’s receiving as a platform to address gun violence and mental illness issues.

Abede Dasilva was at the Waffle House with his brother Akilah, who was killed in the shooting. He said Shaw is honoring his brother by using his platform in this way.

“My brother was against guns,” Dasilva said. “He would want this.”

Shaw set up a GoFundMe immediately after the shooting, which raised over $240,000.

A replica of the check was presented to the families during the luncheon to reflect Shaw's fundraising efforts. The amount will be divided evenly among the families once processed by GoFundMe.