An elderly Jewish man dies after an “altercation” with a pro-Palestinian protester in Thousand Oaks
A 69-year-old Jewish man died Monday after suffering a serious head injury during an altercation with a pro-Palestinian protester in Thousand Oaks, authorities said.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office deputies received several calls around 3:20 p.m. about a “battery” at the intersection of Westlake and Thousand Oaks avenues where demonstrations involving pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups were taking place.
When officers arrived, they located the victim, identified as Paul Kessler, who was suffering from a head injury, the sheriff’s office said. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries on Monday.
“Witness accounts indicated that Kessler was involved in a physical altercation with counter-protesters,” the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. “During the altercation, Kessler fell backwards and hit his head on the ground.”
According to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los AngelesKessler was hit in the head by a megaphone used by a pro-Palestinian demonstrator.
A video posted on social media shows the man lying on the ground while two people, including a pro-Palestinian protester, try to help.
“While we await more information from our law enforcement partners, we remind you that this is the fourth major anti-Semitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone,” the union said in a statement. “Violence against our people has no place in a civilized society. We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it.”
The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and determined the manner of death to be homicide, the statement said.
The Sheriff’s Office has not said whether anyone has been arrested in connection with the incident, which is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
“This is an active and ongoing investigation, and the incident appears to be isolated and not part of a larger effort,” officials said.
Investigators are urging anyone who witnessed the incident or was present at the demonstration to contact Detective Stump at 805-384-4745. Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or by By following this link.
Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim hate incidents have escalated in the United States and abroad since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas.