On Tuesday evening, hundreds of people attended the second vigil for US student Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in the Paris terrorist attacks.
The 23-year old from El Monte was a senior at California State University Long Beach (CSULB), majoring in industrial design. She had been chosen to be part of an international student exchange program, and was spending one semester at Strate School of Design in Paris, alongside 16 other CSULB students.
On Friday evening, November 13, she was with her friends at La Belle Equipe, a cafe bar in Rue de Charonne, in the 11th district, a popular tourist spot for those wishing to experience the true charm of the French capital.
That is when gunmen opened fire on the sidewalk terrace of the cafe, killing 18 people, among whom there was also Nohemi Gonzalez.
This was actually part of a series of coordinated attacks, claimed by the ISIS jihadist extremist militant group, in retaliation for France’s military interventions in Iraq and Syria.
A total of 129 people were killed during the Paris massacres. More than 80 of them perished at Bataclan concert hall, during a hostage situation led by 4 terrorists. There were also 3 bombs detonated at the Stade de France stadium, during the France-Germany soccer match.
Several other shootings and explosions occurred across the 10th and 11th districts, at Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon on Rue Alibert, at Casa Nostra pizzeria on Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, at Comptoir Voltaire on Boulevard Voltaire and at Boulevard Beaumarchais.
Nohemi Gonzalez was confirmed as the first American casualty of the Paris terror attacks. Other fellow students who were with her during the shootings managed to escape alive after scattering across the area.
Niran Jayasiri, 29, who was part of that group, initially thought he was hearing firecrackers, but then saw the attackers and immediately ran and hid in a grocery store. After frantically trying to contact his longtime pal and check that she was alright, he realized her mobile phone had been stolen a few days before.
Upon calling another student who had been at their table, he was told that Gonzalez had been fatally shot. The news came as a horrible shock to him and others who knew the talented, vibrant student, whose optimism and positive vibe were contagious. As Ana Ramirez recalls, her friend was a “beautiful soul”, with an unforgettable smile.
Another friend of hers, Andrew Calder, still reminisces of how they would watch ‘Pocahantas’ together, attend concerts or eat at McDonald’s.
During the candlelight vigil, which took place at Whittier High School, where the young woman graduated in 2010, many friends, teachers, family members, fellow students and acquaintances shared such memories, as they celebrated the life of their loved one, whose death was so sudden and heartbreaking.
Another tearful vigil was also held at California State University Long Beach, where the first generation American-Mexican was mourned, and remembered as a strong, committed worker, with big dreams which she should’ve been allowed to achieve.
A memorial fund has been set up on the DonationTo online platform, if anyone wishes to help Nohemi’s family with funeral costs, so as to cope a little easier with this tragedy.
Image Source: DonationTo