A pro-Palestinian protester killed a 69-year-old Jewish man in Thousand Oaks, Calif., at a protest on Sunday, police said.
Paul Kessler attended a pro-Israel protest when he became involved in an altercation with one or more pro-Palestinian counterprotesters, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. Kessler then fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement, succumbing to his injuries Monday. The county medical examiner's office determined that Kessler died from a blunt force head injury and that his death was a homicide.
"The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident and has not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime," police said.
Witnesses said pro-Palestinian protesters approached Kessler's group and began antagonizing its members, according to a Los Angeles ABC affiliate. One witness said Kessler entered a shouting match with a protester who hit Kessler in the head with a megaphone, causing him to fall.
Rabbi Michael Barclay, who leads a synagogue in the area, urged people to "let the police do their job" on X, adding that officers have received conflicting accounts of the incident, with some recounting the megaphone narrative and others saying the altercation was purely verbal. Barclay also said he spoke to Thousand Oaks police chief Jeremy Paris, who told him the ruling of a homicide could range in meaning from an accident to an intentional killing.
The sheriff's office held a press conference Tuesday in which it was announced that police identified a suspect but no arrests have been made. Medical examiner Christopher Young reiterated that Kessler's cause of death was a homicide, meaning it was influenced by the actions of another person but not necessarily intentional. Young said Kessler had an injury to the face that could have been the result of being struck by another person.
Anti-Semitic incidents have surged in the United States since Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Last week a woman whom police described as a "terrorist" allegedly crashed her car into what she thought was a Jewish school. The group that actually operates the building, the Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge, is an "extreme and anti-Semitic" group, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Published under: Hamas