California law enforcement is actively probing the death of a 69-year-old pro-Israel protester, Paul Kessler, as a possible hate crime following a violent clash at a rally in Thousand Oaks. Kessler sustained a critical head injury during an incident that unfolded amid dueling pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations on Sunday.
The altercation escalated when Kessler reportedly engaged with an attendee from the pro-Palestinian side, leading to a fall that resulted in him striking his head on concrete. Preliminary reports, including one from ABC 7, suggest Kessler may have been hit with a megaphone before his fall, although details of the confrontation are still being pieced together by authorities.
Kessler was hospitalized but unfortunately passed away due to his injuries the following day. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, in addressing the grave nature of the event, has not dismissed the likelihood of this being a hate crime. The incident, which occurred around 3:20 p.m. at a busy intersection, drew multiple emergency calls to the scene.
Anti-Israel protesters resume chanting as Paul Kessler is taken away in an ambulance.
“As a man is being taken away on an ambulance for being knocked unconscious… this is the kind of respect these Palestinian protesters are giving.” — source from the scene of the deadly attack. pic.twitter.com/BLBoOhXoO9
— Christina Buttons (@buttonslives) November 7, 2023
The subsequent investigation revealed Kessler was embroiled in a dispute with counter-protesters, leading to the fatal injury. Following his death on November 6, an autopsy affirmed the cause as blunt force trauma to the head, officially ruled a homicide.
As the investigation proceeds, authorities have disclosed that while the suspected assailant remains unidentified, another individual from the pro-Palestinian group attempted to provide aid to Kessler by placing cardboard under his bleeding head. This person’s later actions, characterized by some witnesses as smiling and laughing, have also been noted in reports.