THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. Southern California authorities investigating the dying of a Jewish man following a confrontation with a pro-Palestinian demonstrator over the Israel-Hamas warfare havent decided whether or not a criminal offense occurred and on Tuesday requested for the publics assist to unravel what occurred.
Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff mentioned deputies decided that Paul Kessler, 69, who died early Monday at a hospital, had fallen backward and struck his head on the bottom at a pro-Palestinian demonstration Sunday afternoon in Hundreds Oaks, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles.
The professional-Palestinian demonstrator stayed on the scene and instructed deputies he had known as 911, Fryhoff mentioned.
Fryhoff mentioned investigators had been getting conflicting data from witnesses on either side about what happened earlier than the autumn and had not dominated out the potential of a hate crime. No arrests have been made, and officers had been asking for folks to offer video footage if they’ve any.
What precisely transpired previous to Mr. Kessler falling backward isnt crystal clear proper now, Fryhoff mentioned, including that it is also unclear how many individuals had been concerned.
He cautioned folks to not soar to conclusions, and “chorus from spreading rumors or spreading misinformation on social media or different platforms, as that may not solely hinder our investigation, however it will probably trigger pointless panic in our neighborhood.
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Demonstrations have been widespread and tensions are escalating in america because the dying toll rises within the Israel-Hamas warfare. Final month a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy was stabbed 26 occasions by his landlord in what authorities have mentioned was in response to escalating right-wing rhetoric on the battle. In Ventura County alone there have been 21 demonstrations because the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on Israel, Fryhoff mentioned.
Learn Extra: The Israel-Hamas Battle Is Resulting in an Uptick in Hate Crimes
Kessler was amongst a bunch of pro-Israel demonstrators who confirmed up on the occasion that was marketed as a peaceable gathering to assist Palestinians, Fryhoff mentioned. About 75 folks in whole had been there and patrols within the space reported seeing no indication of violence quarter-hour earlier than the altercation occurred, Fryhoff mentioned.
Deputies discovered Kessler bleeding from the top and mouth and he was aware as he was transported to the hospital, Fryhoff mentioned. A professional-Palestinian demonstrator stayed to inform deputies he had been concerned within the confrontation with Kessler and had known as 911 after he fell, Fryhoff mentioned.
The professional-Palestinian protester is 50 years previous and resides within the close by metropolis of Moorpark, Fryhoff mentioned, including that officers weren’t releasing his identify presently. He was detained briefly for questioning and authorities have searched his dwelling.
Ventura County Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Younger mentioned on the information convention Tuesday that an post-mortem discovered Kessler died from a blunt power head trauma, and that the accidents had been according to a fall. Kessler additionally had accidents that might be according to a blow to the face, nevertheless it’s unclear what precipitated his fall, Younger mentioned.
Kessler was injured on the left facet of his face and again of his head. He had cranium fractures and swelling and bruising of the mind, Younger mentioned. Kesslers dying has been listed as a murder, a medical willpower that doesn’t point out a criminal offense was dedicated, Younger mentioned.
The sheriff was requested if a megaphone was used to strike Kessler.
Ive heard that, and I feel the medical expert has mentioned the accidents on the face may have been brought on by a megaphone,” Fryhoff mentioned. “However I dont have the knowledge of what he had on him on the time.
Further patrols have been assigned to synagogues and mosques within the space, he mentioned.
Rabbi Michael Barclay of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village, close to Thousand Oaks, additionally urged folks to attend for investigators to find out what occurred, writing on X, previously Twitter to not let this develop into a spark that begins an inferno.
The Better Los Angeles Space workplace of the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a press release calling Kesslers dying a tragic and stunning loss.
Whereas we strongly assist the fitting of political debate, CAIR-LA and the Muslim neighborhood stand with the Jewish neighborhood in rejecting any and all violence, antisemitism, Islamophobia, or incitement of hatred, the assertion mentioned.
Related Press author John Antczak in Los Angeles and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report. Watson reported from San Diego.