Nohemi Gonzalez was a 5-foot-2 industrial design student from California who had never been abroad before. She wanted to see everything in Paris — Moulin Rouge and the Louvre. On Friday night, Gonzalez was at dinner with friends when rifle-wielding gunmen sprayed Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, killing the 23-year-old college student.
Gonzalez, a senior at California State University at Long Beach, was with two other students from the university and the husband of one. None were injured, university officials said.
“She was a beautiful soul who was absolutely passionate about design,” said Martin Herman, the chairman of the industrial design program at Cal State Long Beach. “It’s just unimaginable she won’t be there. It’s a terrible void. We are just trying to wrap our head around this.”
Another American citizen, Helen Jane Wilson, 49, was among those wounded at the Bataclan concert hall, according to media accounts.
Wilson, who is from New Orleans, runs a catering company in Paris called Rock en Bol. She told the Associated Press that she was shot in both thighs. She was taken to Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris, after being bandaged and receiving a blood transfusion, according to several media accounts.
At least 129 died in the attack, and most of them were European, including Nick Alexander, 36, from London, who was shot in front of Wilson.
Wilson told the Telegraph newspaper in England that she performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as they lay on the ground at the concert hall. Alexander and Wilson were once a couple and remained friends, she said.
As the first shots were fired, Wilson said, they seemed to compete with the rock music being played by the California band Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan. Alexander sold merchandise for the band.
“We heard a couple of noises outside, and people started running into the club. We didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “Then maybe five, six guys came in with machine guns and shotguns and just started shooting people. It was mayhem.”
Nearly one dozen countries reported deaths of their citizens, according to news reports. They are France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Algeria, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Tunisia and Algeria as well as the United States.
Among those killed at the Bataclan were Valentin Ribet, a 26-year-old French lawyer, and Guillaume B. Decherf, a 43-year-old French music journalist.
Ribet specialized in white-
collar crime, according to his firm, Hogan Lovells. He had received several degrees from the Pantheon-Sorbonne University and had earned a master’s degree in international business law from the London School of Economics in 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“Our hearts are filled with sadness at this news,” the London School of Economics tweeted Saturday about Ribet’s death.
Decherf was a reporter for Inrocks, a French music and culture magazine, and had also written for Rolling Stone. According to a message posted Saturday on the Inrocks Web site, he had two daughters. “We are all devastated that he’s left us. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Gonzalez, the student from Cal State Long Beach, is the only American who has so far been confirmed dead. She was from Whittier, Calif., just outside Los Angeles.
In September, she entered an exchange program at Strate College of Design in Paris along with 16 other students from Cal State. All have been accounted for and are safe, university officials said.
A campus vigil for Gonzalez is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday to “mourn Gonzalez’s passing and to grieve for all the victims of the atrocious attack,” a university official said.
Herman, the chairman of the industrial design program, described Gonzalez as “buoyant and very outgoing.” She mentored other students and was also an assistant in the program. She was entrusted with a lot of responsibility, the chairman said.
A classmate and friend said she was “very petite — a dynamo’’ — but was capable of lifting heavy equipment in the design classes without assistance.
She surfed on weekends with her boyfriend in Huntington Beach, a well-known hangout for surfers, about 15 miles south of campus, where they also socialized around beach bonfires.
She was one of about 20 students on schedule to graduate from the industrial design program next year.
A classmate and friend, who declined to be identified, said Gonzalez had recently placed in a national U.S. design competition and was “going to be a huge force in the design field.”
At the time of her death, she was working on a project — the design of a bookstore at the Louvre Museum — that was to be presented in class this week.
Gonzalez came to Cal State Long Beach dreaming of designing products that would improve people’s lives, with designs for products as varied as kitchen appliances, medical equipment and toys.
“She wanted to design, not consumer tchotchkes, but things that would make a difference in the world,” said Pamela Bee, her supervisor and friend in the industrial design school.
Gonzalez was strong-willed, acting as a mentor to students and organizing school projects. When she was a teaching assistant to instructor Matias Ocana last year, he recalled her bringing in homemade Mexican posole soup, made with pork, beans, chilies and cabbage, and sharing it with students and teachers.
“She was young and energetic, with such a zest for life,” he said. “She was very happy. Very talented.”
Her friends and co-workers found it hard to believe that someone as determined and forceful as Gonzalez did not survive the attack.
“She was the rock,” said Bee, “the mentor and the leader, and she always held things together for people. Why did it have to be the strong one? Everybody said, she’ll be fine, she has to be okay, because she’s a warrior.”
Julie Tate, Emma Brown, Magda Jean-Louis, Adam Goldman, Lisa Rein, Alice Crites and Sarah Larimer contributed to this report.