Jewish man's death after confrontation with pro-Palestinian protester being investigated as homicide

Officials determined that Kessler died from blunt force head injury and ruled his manner of death as homicide.

Published: November 7, 2023 8:08am

Updated: November 7, 2023 4:28pm

Police in California said Tuesday the death of a Jewish man after a physical altercation with a pro-Palestinian protester this past weekend is being investigated as a homicide.

The update into the investigation was made by Ventura County Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Jim Fryhoff.

The victim Paul Kessler, 69, was reportedly struck in the head with a megaphone Sunday, and he succumbed to his injuries Monday.

Fryhoff said a suspect was detained, then released and that he also was served with a search warrant and is cooperating with authorities. 

However, eyewitnesses have given "conflicting statement" and no charges have been filed against the unnamed suspect, he also said.

What transpired before the confrontation "isn't clear right now," Fryhoff also said. 

The incident occurred at an intersection in the northwest Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks where pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrations were occurring, the sheriff's department said

At the press conference Tuesday, law enforcement identified the suspect as a 50-year-old man.

Officers arrived Sunday to find Kessler with a head injury, and witnesses told police that he was "involved in a physical altercation" with at least one counter-protester, officials said. 

Kessler fell backward during the altercation and struck his head on the ground, according to law enforcement. He was taken to hospital and died the following day. 

The county's Medical Examiner’s Office determined after an autopsy that Kessler died from blunt force head injury and ruled his manner of death as homicide.

"Manner of death of homicide does not indicate a crime has been committed — that’s determined by DA’s office," said county Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Young, according to NBC

There has been an increase in antisemitic incidents around the world since Palestinian-affiliated Hamas launched terror attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, which resulted in Israel declaring war on the militant group in Gaza. 

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