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Paris attack survivor recalls Nohemi Gonzalez being killed

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Monday, November 16, 2015, 3:34 PM

They were drinking beer and talking about life abroad when evil approached.

Niran Jayasiri, 29, was talking with Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, and other friends when the Islamic State terrorists opened fire at the La Belle Equipe restaurant Friday night.

“The first thing I heard was the noise like firecrackers,” Jayasiri told the Daily News. “Then I saw the gunman. He was across the street from us, coming from behind us and walking in our direction.”

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The next thing he saw was the flash of bullets lighting up the darkness as the gunman opened fire and shot indiscriminately into the crowd.

Longtime friend Niran Jayasiri (r.) was hanging out with Nohemi Gonzalez when ISIS attackers struck Friday night. facebook

Longtime friend Niran Jayasiri (r.) was hanging out with Nohemi Gonzalez when ISIS attackers struck Friday night.

Enlarge Cal State student Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, was hanging out with friends from Long Beach, Calif., when she was killed in the attack at La Belle Equipe restaurant. HANDOUT/REUTERS

Cal State student Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, was hanging out with friends from Long Beach, Calif., when she was killed in the attack at La Belle Equipe restaurant.

Enlarge

Cal State student Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, was hanging out with friends from Long Beach, Calif., when she was killed in the attack at La Belle Equipe restaurant.

As the crowds screamed and scattered in fear, Jayasiri and Gonzalez were parted for the final time as they ran for their lives away from La Belle Equipe.

“It was just instinct,” he recalled. “I just ran.”

The next moments are a total blur.

“I can’t remember anything after that,” he said, noting that he just recalls hearing a friend say that he had been hit.

Jayasiri took cover in a grocery store, where he realized his friend had been hit in the lower back.

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The friend was eventually taken away by emergency services as the carnage unfolded across the city.

Inside the grocery, Jayasiri tried to call his longtime friend Gonzalez, to no avail.

MANDATORY CREDIT - ALTERNATE CROP OF TH101Anne Sophie Chaisemartin/AP

Victims of a shooting attack lay on the pavement outside La Belle Equipe restaurant Friday, when more than 100 people were killed in a string of terror attacks throughout Paris.

He hoped it was because her cellphone was stolen the week before.

Eventually, he tracked down a mutual friend, who broke the heartbreaking news to him.

“She just said, ‘Nohemi’s dead,’ ” he remembered. “My friend was with her at that time. I didn’t want to believe it, and I asked, ‘How do you know?’ She just said, ‘I’m right next to her.’ “

The evening started out as “just another regular Friday night,” he said.

The pair had gone to meet friends who were visiting Paris from Long Beach, Calif., for the weekend when the restaurant came under fire.

Gonzalez’s other friends from Cal State — Andrew Calder, 30, and Ana Ramirez, 24 — told of their heartbreak at losing their pal.

“She was a beautiful soul. We’ll always remember her and her bright smile. She was a great person to be around and a great friend,” said Ramirez.

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Forensic police search for evidences inside the La Belle Equipe cafe in Paris after a series of attacks across the city.JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images

Forensic police search for evidences inside the La Belle Equipe cafe in Paris after a series of attacks across the city.

“One of my favorite things to do with her was watch ‘Pocahontas.’ We went to lots of concerts together and always found a way to eat McDonald’s,” added Calder.

“Having her in my life was such a huge blessing. I’ll always miss her,” he said.

They all have fond memories of their slain friend, and laughed together as they recalled her joy for life.

“One thing I’ll always remember about her was that she was never angry, or sad. She would always look for a positive outcome,” said Jayasiri.

“I used to joke the only time I would see her angry or sad was when she was hungry, or if she was out of ketchup.”

Gonzalez “always had a smile on her face,” he added. “I guess she would want us to learn from her and go about our lives with a positive attitude.”

lhanna@nydailynews.com

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