A friend of Nohemi Gonzalez – the California State, Long Beach student who was murdered in the Paris attacks along with at least 128 others – recalled with vivid detail the terrifying moments of the attack.
Niran Jayasiri, 29, and Gonzalez, 23, had gone to La Belle Equipe restaurant in the city’s 11th arrondissement for a Friday night out with friends.
"The first thing I heard was the noise like firecrackers," Jayasiri told the New York Daily News. "Then I saw the gunman. He was across the street from us, coming from behind us and walking in our direction."
Then the ISIS gunman opened fire into the crowd, which scattered in all directions, screaming.
"It was just instinct," Jayasiri recalled. "I just ran."
He ran in one direction, Gonzalez in another. It was the last time he would see her alive.
Jayasiri took cover in a grocery store, where he realized one of his friends, Andrew Calder, who had run in the same direction, had been hit by a bullet in the lower back.
As emergency medical personnel moved into the area, Jayasiri’s friend was taken away for treatment.
Still inside the store, Jayasiri tried to call Gonzalez, but then he remembered that her cellphone had been stolen the week before.
He called another friend who also had been at the table when the terrorist struck.
"She just said, 'Nohemi's dead,' " Jayasiri told the Daily News. "I didn't want to believe it, and I asked, 'How do you know?' She just said, 'I'm right next to her.'"
Two other friends of Gonzalez from Cal State — Andrew Calder, 30, and Ana Ramirez, 24 — spoke to the paper about their friend.
"We'll always remember her and her bright smile,” Ramirez said. “She was a great person to be around and a great friend."
"One of my favorite things to do with her was watch 'Pocahontas,'” Calder said. “We went to lots of concerts together and always found a way to eat McDonald's."
"She would always look for a positive outcome," Jayasiri remembered. "I used to joke that the only time I would see her angry or sad was when she was hungry – or if she was out of ketchup."
Her family has set up a DonationTo page to help pay for her funeral expenses. As of midday Tuesday has collected more than $8,000.