A local university campus and the entire Southland mourned Sunday for a 23-year-old industrial design student at Cal State Long Beach who was killed in the Paris terror attacks.
University officials confirmed that the student was Nohemi Gonzalez of El Monte. She was a senior who was in Paris as one of 17 CSULB students taking part in a semester abroad program, according to Michael Uhlenkamp, executive director of news for the university.
Uhlenkamp said the school has confirmed that the other 16 students are safe.
“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,” CSULB President Jane Close Conoley said today. “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.”
The university will hold a vigil at 4 p.m. Sunday to mourn Gonzalez’s passing and that of all the victims of the attack.
French officials said at least 129 people were killed and more than 350 were injured in Friday’s coordinated terrorist attacks, which targeted six locations throughout the city.
The Islamic extremist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.
At a press conference on campus, officials said Gonzalez was at a restaurant in Paris with other CSULB students on Friday when the attacks broke out.
“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.”
Michael LaForte, a lecturer and one of Gonzalez’s 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.”
The university also announced today that homecoming festivities will continue, including tonight’s men’s basketball game at The Pyramid.
“There’s no question that the celebration has now taken on a somewhat somber tone,” Carbaugh said.
— City News Service