December 5, 2023
Flowers and flags are positioned on the actual location on the sidewalk of the alleged assault on Paul Kessler on Sunday in Thousand Oaks, California, U.S., November 7, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A suspect within the loss of life of a Jewish man who fell and hit his head throughout twin pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests in California had referred to as 911 to report the autumn and waited on the scene and answered investigators’ questions, authorities stated on Tuesday. 

Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff stated at a press convention that the unnamed particular person, the one suspect thus far, has not been arrested. Investigators are in search of video and images from the general public to assist them be taught what prompted Paul Kessler, 69, to fall and hit his head throughout Sunday protests in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles (65 km) west of Los Angeles.

“What precisely transpired previous to Mr. Kessler falling backward isn’t crystal clear proper now,” Fryhoff stated. 

Kessler’s loss of life has been dominated a murder by medical experts, with the reason for loss of life listed as blunt drive trauma to his head. Officers emphasised {that a} loss of life being dominated a murder signifies that one other particular person was concerned, however doesn’t point out if something felony occurred. 

Authorities haven’t dominated out that different individuals had been concerned. 

Kessler was aware when taken to the hospital and spoke with investigators whereas there, the sheriff stated. He declined to say what Kessler advised officers.

Witnesses have offered conflicting accounts about who was the aggressor within the incident, the sheriff stated. The medical experts workplace stated Kessler had non-lethal accidents to the left facet of his face, which might point out he was hit earlier than falling, however that it was not sure that was the case. 

U.S. officers and civil rights teams have warned of elevated threats towards Jews, Muslims and Arab Individuals following the Oct. 7 assault by the Palestinian militant group Hamas wherein Israel says 1,400 had been killed and greater than 240 taken hostage, and the following Israeli bombardment of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the place Palestinian well being authorities say greater than 10,000 individuals have been killed. 

Fryhoff stated his deputies have elevated patrols round mosques and synagogues due to Kessler’s loss of life. 

Final month, an Illinois man was charged with hate crimes for stabbing a 6-year-old Muslim boy to loss of life and wounding his mom in an assault that officers stated focused them for his or her faith in a response to the battle. 

The Jewish Federation of Higher Los Angeles recognized the sufferer at Sunday’s protest as a Jewish man and stated the incident was the fourth act of antisemitic violence within the Los Angeles space this 12 months, and the second since Oct. 7. 

The twin protests in Thousand Oaks on Sunday drew about 100 individuals from either side, Fryhoff stated, and no different incidents had been reported. Legislation enforcement often drove by the scene of the protest previous to Kessler’s fall and noticed nothing that alarmed them, he added. 

Rabbi Noah Farkas, the chief of the Jewish Federation of Higher Los Angeles, citing conversations with native authorities officers, earlier stated a pro-Palestinian protester had struck the sufferer on the top with a megaphone. Fryhoff stated he couldn’t verify that occurred, however that it was potential. 

The Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, expressed grief on Monday over what it referred to as a “tragic and stunning loss,” whereas additionally asking individuals to “chorus from leaping to conclusions” or “sensationalizing such a tragedy for political positive factors.”