An elderly Jewish man has died after suffering injuries sustained at a protest just outside of Los Angeles.
Police responded after multiple people called the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office to report an assault that occurred at the intersection of Westlake Blvd and Thousand Oaks Blvd, where pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrations were taking place.
Deputies said in a statement that after a verbal confrontation, 69-year-old Paul Kessler was involved in a physical altercation during which he fell backwards and struck his head on the ground.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles wrote in a post on X that a pro-Palestinian protestor threw a megaphone at Kessler.
— Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (@JFedLA) November 7, 2023
During a Nov. 7 press conference, Sheriff Jim Fryhoff said that when officers arrived on-scene, Kessler was conscious and responsive. A sergeant observed that Kessler was bleeding from his head and mouth.
Kessler was transported to Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, remaining conscious throughout the ambulance ride and upon arrival, though he was listed as being in critical condition by hospital staff.
He was still conscious when contacted by deputies at the hospital at 5:32 p.m., roughly two hours after the incident. However, Kessler died at 3 a.m.
An autopsy performed by the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s office concluded the cause of death to be blunt force head injury and the manner of death is listed as homicide.
“The injured man fell to the ground bleeding and was rushed to the hospital. His death was confirmed to have been caused due to a brain hemorrhage,” wrote the Jewish News Syndicate, citing multiple reports. “Israelis who were present at the scene described it as ‘a terrifying sight’ and expressed shock that such an incident took place in their neighborhood.”
Police detained a suspect who was cooperative during an initial interview at the scene of the protest and during the execution of a search warrant at his residence a short time after.
“Violence against our people has no place in a civilized society,” the Jewish Federation said in its statement. “We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it.”