As the Southland continues to reel from a mass shooting in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead, funeral services will be held Friday for Nohemi Gonzalez, the 23-year-old Cal State Long Beach student who was killed during a terrorist attack in Paris that killed 129 people.
Gonzalez, of El Monte, died Nov. 13 while eating with friends at a popular bistro in Paris called La Belle Equipe. A senior majoring in industrial design, she was one of 17 CSULB students attending Strate College of Design in Paris as part of a semester abroad program.
She died in the coordinated attacks that erupted at the cafe, a soccer stadium and, most notably, at the Bataclan theater where a Palm Desert-based band was performing.
The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. at Calvary Chapel in Downey.
A series of gatherings have been held in Gonzalez’s memory in the weeks since the Paris attacks. Three days after Gonzalez’s death, about 500 people gathered at CSULB for a remembrance ceremony.
University President Dr. Jane Close Conoley told the somber onlookers the university is a tight-knit community that shares the Gonzalez family’s grief, saying her death at the hands of terrorists tied to the Islamic extremist group ISIS is “an assault on our hearts.”
“We miss her today and we’ll miss her forever,” Conoley said.
The chairman of CSULB’s industrial design program told the Gonzalez family that Nohemi was a luminary among her peers.
“We are all heartbroken that such a beautiful light has been ripped from us,” Dr. Martin Herman said. “(Her) goodness and compassion infused the department.”
Nohemi’s mother, Beatriz Gonzalez, didn’t speak during the hour-long ceremony inside the school’s student union that was followed by a candlelight vigil outside. Her stepfather, Jose Hernandez, spoke on behalf of the family, referring to Nohemi by her nickname, Mimi.
“Mimi is in our hearts,” Hernandez said. “Mimi is not dead.”
Gonzalez’s boyfriend of four years, Tim Mraz, reflected during his speech on how she would have felt to be the focus of an event like the one held at the university.
“She would have loved this and hated this at the same time,” Mraz said. “She hated attention.”
— City News Service