Suspect in California Jewish protester’s death cooperating with police

By Brad Brooks

(Reuters) – A suspect within the loss of life of a Jewish man who fell and hit his head throughout twin pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests in California had referred to as 911 to report the autumn and waited on the scene and answered investigators’ questions, authorities mentioned on Tuesday.

Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff mentioned at a press convention that the unnamed individual, the one suspect up to now, has not been arrested. Investigators are in search of video and images from the general public to assist them study what brought on Paul Kessler, 69, to fall and hit his head throughout Sunday protests in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles (65 km) west of Los Angeles.

“What precisely transpired previous to Mr. Kessler falling backward is not crystal clear proper now,” Fryhoff mentioned.

Kessler’s loss of life has been dominated a murder by medical experts, with the reason for loss of life listed as blunt pressure trauma to his head. Officers emphasised {that a} loss of life being dominated a murder signifies that one other individual was concerned, however doesn’t point out if something prison came about.

Authorities haven’t dominated out that different folks had been concerned.

Kessler was aware when taken to the hospital and spoke with investigators whereas there, the sheriff mentioned. He declined to say what Kessler instructed officers.

Witnesses have offered conflicting accounts about who was the aggressor within the incident, the sheriff mentioned. The medical experts workplace mentioned Kessler had non-lethal accidents to the left facet of his face, which might point out he was hit earlier than falling, however that it was not sure that was the case.

U.S. officers and civil rights teams have warned of elevated threats in opposition to Jews, Muslims and Arab Individuals following the Oct. 7 assault by the Palestinian militant group Hamas wherein Israel says 1,400 had been killed and greater than 240 taken hostage, and the following Israeli bombardment of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the place Palestinian well being authorities say greater than 10,000 folks have been killed.

Fryhoff mentioned his deputies have elevated patrols round mosques and synagogues due to Kessler’s loss of life.

Final month, an Illinois man was charged with hate crimes for stabbing a 6-year-old Muslim boy to loss of life and wounding his mom in an assault that officers mentioned focused them for his or her faith in a response to the conflict.

The Jewish Federation of Larger Los Angeles recognized the sufferer at Sunday’s protest as a Jewish man and mentioned the incident was the fourth act of antisemitic violence within the Los Angeles space this 12 months, and the second since Oct. 7.

The twin protests in Thousand Oaks on Sunday drew about 100 folks from either side, Fryhoff mentioned, and no different incidents had been reported. Legislation enforcement often drove by the scene of the protest previous to Kessler’s fall and noticed nothing that alarmed them, he added.

Rabbi Noah Farkas, the chief of the Jewish Federation of Larger Los Angeles, citing conversations with native authorities officers, earlier mentioned a pro-Palestinian protester had struck the sufferer on the pinnacle with a megaphone. Fryhoff mentioned he couldn’t verify that came about, however that it was attainable.

The Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, expressed grief on Monday over what it referred to as a “tragic and stunning loss,” whereas additionally asking folks to “chorus from leaping to conclusions” or “sensationalizing such a tragedy for political features.”

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Longmont, Colorado; Further reporting by Daniel Trotta in California; modifying by Donna Bryson and Invoice Berkrot)

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