The loss of life of a 69-year-old Jewish man after struggling a head harm Sunday throughout an altercation at demonstrations for Palestinians and Israelis in Southern California has been dominated a murder, authorities stated.
Witnesses say the person, recognized by legislation enforcement as Paul Kessler, was “concerned in a bodily altercation” with no less than one counterprotester whereas pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian rallies have been being held in Thousand Oaks, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Workplace stated in a information launch Monday.
“Through the altercation, Kessler fell backwards and struck his head on the bottom,” the sheriff’s workplace stated.
In a information convention Tuesday, Ventura County Sheriff James Fryhoff recognized the suspect as a 50-year-old man who was on the demonstration to voice his assist for Palestinians. He has not been arrested, Fryhoff stated.
What occurred previous to Kessler’s head harm is unclear, Fryhoff stated, pointing to conflicting accounts from pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
“There was clearly an interplay between the 2, however what that stage of interplay is continues to be unclear,” Fryhoff stated.
Footage taken on the scene and shared on-line exhibits Kessler mendacity on his again on the sidewalk, with blood on his face and on the bottom. He locations his fingers on his head as a lady with a Palestinian flag on her again and a person lean over him, making an attempt to assist, the video exhibits.
The footage doesn’t present the altercation that led to Kessler’s accidents.
The sheriff’s workplace “has not dominated out the potential of a hate crime” because it investigates the loss of life, it stated.
Sunday’s demonstrations in Thousand Oaks, a little bit beneath 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles, are amongst many that have erupted in cities across the US to protest Israel’s intense retaliation for the October 7 Hamas assaults, which killed greater than 1,400 individuals, together with civilians and troopers.
Greater than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its army offensive a month in the past, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah stated Monday, drawing from sources within the Hamas-controlled enclave. Israeli airstrikes have hit schools, refugee camps and ambulances.
This photograph, taken Sunday, exhibits Paul Kessler holding an Israeli flag on the intersection the place the altercation would later happen.
Kessler was discovered by deputies with a head harm Sunday afternoon and brought to a hospital, the place he died of his accidents the following day, the sheriff’s workplace stated. An post-mortem discovered “the reason for loss of life to be blunt power head harm and the style of loss of life murder,” the sheriff’s workplace stated.
“That is an lively and ongoing investigation, and the incident seems to be remoted and never half of a big effort,” the sheriff’s workplace stated, asking for the general public’s assist because it gathers data on what unfolded through the demonstration.
The sheriff’s workplace referred to Kessler as a “pro-Israeli protester” however didn’t share additional particulars. CNN has reached out to the sheriff’s workplace for extra data.
“As particulars emerge and are confirmed, we stand resolute in condemnation of violence and antisemitism,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass stated in an announcement Tuesday. “This loss of life is a blow to our area at a time when tensions proceed to rise worldwide. We should redouble our efforts to make sure violence and hate are met with accountability and penalties. Los Angeles refuses to harbor this hatred.”
The Jewish Federation of Larger Los Angeles in an announcement Monday expressed its sympathy for Kessler’s household, including that its leaders have been ready for extra details about his loss of life from legislation enforcement.
Nonetheless, the federation condemned violence in opposition to members of the Jewish group, saying it “has no place in civilized society” and vowing to “do every thing in our energy to stop it.”
“We demand security,” the assertion stated.
Whereas authorities have but to definitively hyperlink Kessler’s loss of life to antisemitism, it occurred amid a reported spike in antisemitic incidents, with the Anti-Defamation League reporting an almost 400% improve within the days after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. FBI Director Christopher Wray advised a Senate panel final week that antisemitism was a risk reaching “historic ranges” in the USA.
The Larger Los Angeles Space workplace of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is “deeply saddened by this tragic and stunning loss,” it stated in a statement, including its “ideas are with the household and the Jewish group throughout this troublesome time.”
“We be part of native Jewish leaders in calling on all people to chorus from leaping to conclusions, sensationalizing such a tragedy for political beneficial properties, or spreading rumors that might unnecessarily escalate tensions which can be already at an all-time excessive,” the council’s assertion continued. “Whereas we strongly assist the suitable of political debate, CAIR-LA and the Muslim group stand with the Jewish group in rejecting any and all violence, antisemitism, Islamophobia, or incitement of hatred.”
A rabbi at Temple Ner Simcha, a close-by Westlake Village temple, spoke with legislation enforcement about Kessler’s loss of life and in addition is encouraging group members to attend for the outcomes of the investigation, he stated.
Rabbi Michael Barclay spoke with the Thousand Oaks police chief and the Ventura County sheriff and was advised there are conflicting experiences of what occurred within the Sunday altercation, he advised CNN.
“These are actually good males I belief, and it’s actually necessary to allow them to do their job,” Barclay stated. “’By no means once more’ is now, however on the similar time we don’t must make a hearth.”
He inspired anybody with video of the incident to share it with police.
The nook the place Kessler was injured typically has demonstrations, Barclay stated, including he has been telling his congregation to keep away from the realm when one is deliberate after listening to experiences of points with counterprotesters and antisemitic hate speech.
CNN has reached out to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Workplace about any earlier incidents reported at that location.
It is a creating story and shall be up to date.
CNN’s Jillian Sykes and Stephanie Elam contributed to this report.