A Jewish man, Paul Kessler, aged 69, was killed following an altercation at concurrent pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests in California. His death is now classified as a homicide.
Kessler suffered blunt force trauma to the head after reportedly being struck with a megaphone and falling, hitting his head on the pavement.
The Ventura County sheriff’s office, which is treating the case as an active homicide investigation, has not yet apprehended any suspects.
The altercation took place in the city of Thousand Oaks, roughly 40 miles from Los Angeles. Details on which party initiated the conflict have not been disclosed by the sheriff's office.
Immediate reports suggested that during the dispute, Kessler was struck on the head with a megaphone, pushed, and sustained another head injury. Despite immediate medical attention and transport to a hospital, Kessler passed away the following day, on November 6, 2023.
The sheriff's office is soliciting public assistance in this ongoing investigation and has not dismissed the possibility of a hate crime.
Rabbi Noah Farkas expressed deep concern over the rising tensions and threats faced by the Jewish community in America.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has characterized Kessler's death as the fourth antisemitic act of violence in the region this year, intensifying after the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.
“This is what’s happening in America right now. There is a culture of fear and a culture of, really, terror against the Jewish community happening,” Farkas said, according to the Guardian.
Kessler, who was at the protest bearing an Israeli flag, came from a family known for their philanthropy.