A Cal State Long Beach student was among at least 129 people killed during a series of deadly attacks in Paris, her parents and the university confirmed Saturday.
Nohemi Gonzalez, of El Monte, was a design student attending a semester abroad program at Strate College of Design in France when the attacks broke out on Friday, according to a news release from the Long Beach school.
“I feel lost, sadness,” Beatrez Gonzalez told KTLA. “(She) was my only daughter.”
Nohemi Gonzalez was at a Paris restaurant when she was fatally shot, according to her stepfather, Jose Hernandez.
“We were told that she didn’t make it,” he said in an interview. “We don’t know if she died instantly or if she suffered or how did it happen.”
Studying in the City of Light was one of Gonzalez’s many dreams, Hernandez said.
Her mother added that the 23-year-old was “very strong, very committed to whatever she decided to do.”
Jane Close Conoley, president of Cal State Long Beach, said she was “deeply saddened. … Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this sad time.”
Although the campus initially said Gonzalez was a 20-year-old junior, an updated news release stated she was 23-year-old senior. A picture of her posted on the French school’s Facebook showed Gonzalez celebrated her birthday last month.
After news of Gonzalez’s death spread, multiple political figures – including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia – gave their condolences to her family.
“The entire Long Beach community mourns the loss of Nohemi Gonzalez. Prayers for her family, friends, and her @CSULB family,” Garcia tweeted. “We will ensure that her memory is honored and that her family has our full support.”
At a news conference held by university officials near the school’s student union building, Professor Michael LaForte remembered Gonzalez as someone who “functioned like a bit of a mentor to younger students.”
“She was a deep, profound presence in our department,” LaForte said. “She will be extraordinarily, profoundly missed.”
The Long Beach campus planned to hold a vigil at 4 p.m. on Sunday to mourn the death of Gonzalez, and other victims of the “atrocious attack,” the news release stated.
“Our university stands with our nearly eighty 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,” Conoley said.
Gonzalez was one of 17 Cal State Long Beach students who were studying in Paris at the time of the attacks, the university president said at the news conference.
School officials confirmed that the 16 other students were safe, Conoley said.
“I feel like it could have happened to any of us,” Cal State Long Beach student Nhi Nguyen said in an interview at the campus. “That could have been my friend. That could have been me.
“Even if we didn’t know who she was, that’s someone from our school,” Nguyen continued. “So that means it’s very close to our hearts.”