Federal Bureau of Investigation

#ForeverABear: Vigil for UC Berkeley Student Killed in Nice, France

Community members gathered at Sproul Plaza to remember Nicolas Leslie

About 300 members of the UC Berkeley community and beyond gathered on the East Bay campus Monday afternoon to honor Nicolas Leslie, a student killed in last week's truck attack in Nice, France.

The memorial vigil was held at Sproul Plaza and many of Leslie's friends spoke, remembering him as a great guy who lit up the room and lived life to the fullest every day.

"Nick you were the best senior associate, and more importantly, the best friend I could have had," friend Ahni Surrumpudi said at the vigil. "You were a friend I could count on to be there. I'll never forget the way you could light up a room within seconds."

Leslie, 20, was confirmed dead Sunday by FBI officials, which were notified by counterparts in France early Sunday, university officials said.

"It's pretty devastating," said Alesandra Silveria, a UC Berkeley student. "It brings it so much closer to home."

Leslie, an environmental sciences major, had been planning to begin studies at the Haas School of Business in the fall. He was also prolific on social media, his friends said, which is why they were so worried about him since his phone went quiet after the July 14 attack.

"This is tragic, devastating news," UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a statement. "All of us in the UC Berkeley family — both here on campus, and around the world — are heartbroken to learn that another promising young student has been lost to senseless violence. I join Nick’s parents, friends and the entire campus community in condemning this horrific attack, and in mourning the loss of one of our own."

Leslie, a native of Del Mar, in San Diego County, was one of 85 Berkeley students attending a summer study abroad program in the French seaside city of Nice when the attacker, identified as 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, drove a truck through crowds departing a fireworks celebration.

Friends told NBC Bay Area that Leslie avoided being hit by the truck but was separated from his group during the stampede and chaos that followed.

On Saturday, Leslie's father, Conrad, left his Southern California home and traveled to Nice in search of his son, NBC News reported. Leslie's uncle, Fabeo Bottini, had been scouring hospitals in the Nice area since the attack looking for Nicolas, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Three other Berkeley students were injured in the Nice attack. Vladyslav Kostiuk, 23, and Diane Huang, 20, have been released from the hospital. Daryus Medora, 21, remains hospitalized, according to the university.

Monday's vigil comes just two weeks after the UC Berkeley campus mourned the loss of Tarishi Jain, a sophomore killed in the Dhaka, Bangladesh terrorist attack.

Menat Elattma, an incoming Egyptian-borne Cal freshman, did not know Leslie but took to Twitter using the hashtag #ForeverABear to send her condolences about him. She's not deterred from one day traveling as a university student, if the occasion should arise.

"With the recent attacks around the world impacting Berkeley, my perception of being a student there has not changed," she said. "It could have been a student from any other university. The perpetrators were not targeting UC Berkeley students specifically, or college students in general. The perpetrators utilized whatever power they have fashioned to oppress and cause violence. Coming from Egypt and a constant state of instability and lack of security, I tend not to allow the issue of safety become in conflict with my endeavors."

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