Nohemi Gonzalez: Vigil held for Cal State Long Beach student killed in Paris attacks

A vigil to mourn and remember the 23-year-old Cal State Long Beach industrial design student killed in the Paris terror attacks was held Sunday at the campus.

Nohemi Gonzalez of El Monte, a senior majoring in industrial design, was one of 129 people killed Friday in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks at sporting and entertainment venues in Paris, according to Michael Uhlenkamp, CSULB's executive director of news.

Gonzalez was one of 17 CSULB students attending Strate College of Design in Paris as part of a semester abroad program. She was killed while having dinner with friends at a popular bistro, La Belle Equipe.

"She was out and about in Paris with her friends, with fellow students including two students who were fellow CSULB students,'' said Terri Carbaugh, who manages media and government relations for the university.

"One of her friends did see that she was shot by the terrorists. ...She did see Nohemi was carried away in a stretcher but she could not tell at that time her outcome,'' Carbaugh said. "But it was really the heroism of that
student and the thoughtfulness of the student and Nohemi's friends that really led us to learn throughout the night how to find out what had happened to her and to gain the details.

"They quickly got in touch with friends and family here in California and stayed in close contact with us throughout the night as we tried to get answers.''

Campus officials, including CSULB president Jane Close Conoley gathered on campus Saturday to confirm Gonzalez' death, and assure concerned parents that the other 16 students studying in Paris were safe.

Meanwhile, Nohemi Gonzalez' mother, Beatrez, spoke of her focused and independent daughter, who realized a dream by studying in Paris.

"I feel lost, sadness, and she was my only daughter,'' Beatrez Gonzalez-Hernandez told new outlets. "She was a very strong young woman. When she went to do something, she committed to whatever she was doing.''

An aunt, Sandra Felt, told new outlets she was still struggling to come to grips with the loss of her niece.

"When it was confirmed, I think we were all in disbelief, still hoping it was not true and she would show up in ruble or something, not dead,'' Felt told the station. "I'm going to miss her beautiful smile and her common sense. She was something else.''

French officials said at least 129 people were killed and more than 350 were injured in Friday's terrorist attacks, which targeted six locations throughout Paris.

The Islamic extremist group ISIS claimed responsibility.

At Saturday's news conference, Conoley added her condolences for the loss of a student, and support for the French nationals studying on the campus this semester.

"I'm deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Long Beach State University student Nohemi Gonzalez. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this sad time,'' Conoley said. "Our university
stands with our nearly 80 foreign exchange students from France as they struggle with this tragedy. We will extend all support necessary to comfort them. We will also extend support to all students, faculty and staff who are in need.''

Michael LaForte, a lecturer and one of Gonzalez' former professors, called her a "shining star'' in CSULB's industrial design department.

"She had a very buoyant, joyous personality,'' LaForte said. "She was extremely lively, extremely energetic.''

A moment of silence for Gonzalez and the other victims was held before CSULB's homecoming basketball game Saturday night at The Pyramid.

In Sacramento, Gov. Jerry Brown added his condolences to those "impacted by this senseless tragedy,'' and ordered all flags at the state Capitol flown at half-staff in memory of Gonzalez and the other victims.

Sunday's vigil at CSULB included a tribute to all victims of the Paris attacks.

The Cal State Long Beach BFA Interior Design Facebook page shared a photo of Gonzalez with the message, "May God Bless our beloved Nohemi Gonzalez , her boyfriend Tim Mraz and all of their friends and family."

It is with unfathomable grief that I post this. May God Bless our beloved Nohemi Gonzalez , her boyfriend Tim Mraz and all of their friends and family.

This story originally stated Gonzalez was 20 and has been updated.

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