California police are appealing for videos and photos of the pro-Palestinian demonstration that led to the death of a 69-year-old Jewish man on Sunday.
Paul Kessler, 69, died Sunday after the Thousand Oaks protest. Witnesses said he was hit on the head with a megaphone by a pro-Palestinian protester.
At a press conference today, police said they could not confirm whether he had been beaten as reported, but confirmed the cause of his death was a fatal blow to the rear of the head received when he fell to the ground.
It’s unclear whether Kessler was pushed or how violent the altercation became.
His injuries included non-life-threatening blows to the side of his face, in addition to brain swelling and hemorrhage and a skull fracture.
The 58-year-old suspect has not yet been named or arrested, but police say he is cooperating with the investigation.
Yesterday he was taken into custody as police executed a search warrant at his Moorpark home. He was released once the search was completed.
A Palestinian supporter appears to help Kessler after his clashes with other protesters
A witness said he saw Paul Kessler, 69, waving an Israeli flag here before being accosted by a pro-Palestinian protester during the demonstration in Thousand Oaks on Sunday.
In this photo from the scene, Kessler is shown being treated by medical personnel while an unidentified man is questioned by police. It is not confirmed if this is the suspect. He is shown holding up a megaphone and a Palestinian flag.
He was among those who called 911 for help when Kessler fell and started bleeding.
The events occurred on Sunday at 3:22 p.m. The next morning, at 1:10 a.m., Kessler was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide, due to blunt force trauma, but emphasized today that that determination does not necessarily equate to a crime.
“It’s a medical and legal decision. “It simply indicates that the death occurred at the hands of another person… (but) homicide does not indicate that a crime was committed.”
“That’s a decision that has to be made by the prosecutor’s office,” said Chief Medical Examiner Christopher Young.
As officials held their press conference, Kessler’s friends gathered at the protest site to pay their respects.
Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff speaks next to Ventura County Chief Medical Examiner Chris R. Young during Tuesday’s news conference.
Mourners visit the site where Paul Kessler was killed during a duel between Israel and Palestine, at the intersection of Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Westlake Road in Thousand Oaks, California.
Avia Jacobs, of Westlake Village, cries Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, at the Shell gas station at the corner of Thousand Oaks and Westlake boulevards, where Paul Kessler was injured two days earlier.
Mourners visit the site where Paul Kessler was killed during a duel between Israel and Palestine, at the intersection of Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Westlake Road in Thousand Oaks, California, November 7, 2023.
He was photographed just minutes before his death, proudly holding an Israeli flag.
He and his wife Cheryl attended the event to peacefully counter Palestinian protesters.
His injuries did nothing to stop those who had shown their support for Palestine. Videos show them continuing to chant anti-Israel remarks as Kessler was put into an ambulance and taken away.
Event organizers then took to social media to warn against “irresponsible assumptions” being made online.
Witnesses recounted ABC Los Angeles that both sides were at odds when it became physical.
“They were both on flat ground and they were shouting at each other, and then the man raised his megaphone and hit Paul, and Paul fell,” said an anonymous witness.
A memorial of flowers and candles sits outside the Shell gas station in Thousand Oaks Tuesday morning. It was the scene of a protest Sunday during which a Jewish man was injured and fell during an altercation. The man, Paul Kessler, died Monday.