Tywanza Sanders, 26, is one of the nine people murdered during a bible study at Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday night and the recent grad spent his last moments trying to protect his aunt.
According to reports, he tried to shield his 87-year-old aunt, Susie Jackson, from Dylann Roof‘s bullets.
Sadly, Jackson was killed as well.
His friend, Torrence Shaw, says he was told what happened inside the church from a family friend who survived the tragedy.
“He tried to step in front of his aunt to save her. He took her bullet,” he told PEOPLE. “But as everyone knows, she also passed away.”
According to friends, he was a big-hearted young man who had his sights set on a bright future.
“After he graduated college, he moved back home with his mother and father, and was trying to save some money. He was going to look into scholarships and pursue going to grad school,” Shaw said.
“Wanza was one-of-a-kind person with the biggest smile you’d ever see. If you were down and out, he’d always find a way to brighten your day.”