Authorities have identified a suspect as they search for answers in the death of a Jewish protester in Thousand Oaks. The 69-year-old man was knocked to the ground during an altercation and later died from his injuries. His death is being investigated as a homicide.
KTLA Five’s Erin Myers is live now at Thousand Oaks with the latest developments. Heidi, investigators say they do have a suspect in this case, but they’re not releasing that person’s identity at this time and no arrests have been made in the death of Paul Kessler. We are here at the scene where that altercation was said to have taken place Sunday afternoon. A growing memorial can also be seen here. Pictures show 69-year-old Paul Kessler on the ground after this altercation.
However, the exact circumstances of his fall are still under investigation. Surveillance video obtained from a nearby gas station shows Kessler, who is Jewish, holding an Israeli flag and standing next to someone holding a Palestinian flag. The video does not clearly show what happens, but at some point, the Israeli flag goes down. According to officials, on Sunday just before 3:30pm, law enforcement responded to an incident reported at the intersection of West Lake and Thousand Oaks Boulevard, where these dueling rallies over the Israel-Hamas war were happening with pro-Palestinian protesters and pro-Israel protesters.
Officials say witnesses reported that Kessler was involved in an altercation with a counter-protester. During that altercation, he fell backward and hit his head on the ground. The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles issued a statement claiming that Kessler was struck in the head with a megaphone by a pro-Palestinian protester. However, investigators have not confirmed this and are still looking for evidence to determine if something caused him to fall. Investigators say the suspect was advocating for Palestine at the protest and did call 911 after the altercation.
Paramedics found Kessler suffering from a head injury and took him to the hospital, but he died yesterday. Several witnesses were interviewed, but their statements have been conflicting, so it is not clear exactly what happened before Paul Kessler fell. “There was clearly an interaction between the two, but the level of interaction is still unclear.
That’s why we’re asking for any video footage we can have. The one camera angle that I think you have all seen is unfortunately blocked, so we cannot see that from that angle. We’re hoping that somebody has video that can help shed some light on what occurred,” stated the investigators. The 50-year-old suspect from Moore Park was detained and then released after a search warrant of his home was completed. It is stated that Paul Kessler suffered nonlethal injuries to his face and had an injury to the back of his head consistent with a fall.
The cause of death was blunt force head trauma and ruled a homicide, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a crime was committed. Again, this is still under investigation. The manner of death being ruled a homicide does not indicate that a crime has been committed.
This determination is made by the district attorney’s office. When the manner of death of homicide is made, it simply states that the death occurred at the hands of another person or the actions of another person contributed to the death of the person..