Dayton, Ohio, shooting: Victim Thomas McNichols was 'gentle giant'

Dayton, Ohio, shooting: Victim Thomas McNichols was 'gentle giant'

People gather at the Levitt Pavilion for a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting that occurred early Sunday morning in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

Thomas McNichols, known to all as T.J. and a father of four, was a "gentle giant," according to his aunt.

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McNichols, 25, was one of the nine people shot and killed by a gunman early Sunday in Dayton's Oregon District.

"He was so tall, and a lot of folks thought he was older than he really was," said Donna Johnson.

He was living with Johnson in her Westwood neighborhood home in Dayton,Ohio.

After McNichols got off work from a Dayton factory Saturday, the two sat eating Twizzlers together before he headed out to the Oregon District with a cousin.

She got a phone call from a niece early Sunday telling her to get down to East Fifth Street.

McNichols attended Dunbar High School, Johnson said. His children, two girls and two boys, range in age from 2 to 8, she said.

"Everybody loved him. He was like a big kid," Johnson said. "When all of the movies come out – "Batman," "Black Panther" – he would get all his nephews and take them to the movies."