Waffle House hero James Shaw, Jr. got a special thank you from families forever changed by the mass shooting in April. 

Relatives of the four shooting victims who died, and those who were wounded gathered on the campus of Tennessee State University. 

They talked over brunch, then together thanked Shaw for saving lives during the 46 seconds of gunfire at the Waffle House in Antioch. The 29-year old humble hero grabbed a semi-automatic rifle away from the gunman, tossed it over a counter, and shoved the shooter out the door.   

“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.”

Families and survivors stood in a circle holding hands, to release four balloons for the 4 young people who lost their lives in the shooting. 

Shaw presented a check for more than $240,000 raised during his GoFundMe campaign. The money will be divided among 8 families. 

Shaw’s heroism has made him a public figure. Now he plans to use his platform to address gun violence and mental illness issues.  

The ceremony took place on the same day that the family of shooting victim Joe Perez filed suit against the father of Waffle House shooting suspect Travis Reinking. The suit alleges that Jeffrey Reinking gave his son the AR-15 rifle police say was used in the mass shooting, despite orders from police to secure it. They say the father is partly responsible for what happened.