Friend standing next to American killed in Paris attacks speaks out

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

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.

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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."

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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.

  • Scott Pelley
    Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"