A Jewish man died after hitting his head in an altercation during alternating pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian marches in California.
LOS ANGELES — Authorities in Ventura County, California, are investigating the death of a Jewish man who was injured during a confrontation at rival pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies and died Monday, the Sheriff’s Department said.
The Ventura County Police Department said in a statement that witnesses said Paul Kessler, 69, “was in a physical altercation with counter-protesters.”
“During the altercation, Kessler fell backwards and hit his head on the ground,” she added.
The Sheriff’s Department said the incident occurred around 3:20 p.m. Sunday in Thousand Oaks, a community in the Los Angeles area that lies directly on the Ventura County line.
She added that Kessler was taken to the hospital and died on Monday.
“The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head and the manner of homicide,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
The police department said pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian marches took place at the same time on Westlake and Thousand Oaks streets.
Rabbi Michael Barclay, of Ner Simcha Synagogue, near the scene, called for patience.
“Please do not make assumptions or accusations until the police can do their job and/or we get actual video,” Barkley said Written on X.
Barclay Kessler identified as Jewish. Kessler’s family declined to comment Monday night and asked for privacy.
The Sheriff’s Department said the investigation is ongoing. She asked anyone who was at the demonstration or has information to contact her.
“The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident and has not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime,” he said in a statement.
The Sheriff’s Department did not provide further details about how Kessler’s injury occurred.
Ventura County Sheriff Jim Freihoff is expected to hold a news conference Tuesday morning.
The Sheriff’s Department said Monday night that no arrests had been made.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic and shocking loss,” Hossam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles-area Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Monday, urging everyone to wait until the Sheriff’s Office completes its investigation.
The death occurred amid rising tensions in parts of the United States and elsewhere around the world The war in Israel Against the terrorist Hamas movement, which carried out unprecedented attacks against civilians in the country on October 7.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com