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Friend standing next to American killed in Paris attacks speaks out

Friends of Nohemi Gonzalez, an American exchange student who died in a Paris cafe, are struggling to deal with her sudden loss
Friends remember American killed in Paris 02:09

PARIS -- The American who was killed in the assault on Paris celebrated her 23rd birthday there last month. Nohemi Gonzalez was a student at Cal State-Long Beach on a semester abroad.

Vigil held for American student killed in Paris attacks 01:27

She was the one thought on the minds of her classmates Monday during the national moment of silence.

They are students of design who crafted a memorial for Gonzalez in the lobby she raced through on the way to class. The absence of sound deafened the mind.

A picture of Gonzalez under the moon in Amsterdam was shot by her friend, Cal State student Niran Jayasiri.

"She was always a very cheerful person. You hardly see her in a bad mood," said Jayasiri. "She always smiles at you even though how late she's been working. She's just a very charismatic person."

He may have been the last to see Gonzalez alive, standing next to her at a café as a terrorist opened fire.

Niran Jayasiri, a friend of Nohemi Gonzalez CBS News

"First I thought it was firecrackers because it sounded like firecrackers. When I looked into the direction where the noise was coming, I saw a gunman just walking on the sidewalk, just shooting everybody."

In that moment, he thought: "Run for it. Just run for it."

He ran with a wounded student. They hid until help arrived. Jayasiri and Ana Rameriz met Gonzalez as freshmen four years ago.

"The way I see it is not that we lost her, but we have to just remember what she taught us," said Rameriz. "That's how she's gonna be present with us. And I know she's here with us."

Nohemi Gonzalez, second from left, with friends in Paris

As students of design they were in the capital of the world. Gonzalez was raised by a single mom. She'd never been abroad before.

She aspired to create products for the home that are easy on the environment -- to make the world more beautiful than she found it.

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