Suspect arrested for manslaughter in death of protester at California rally over Israel-Hamas war


(LOS ANGELES) — A California man has been arrested in connection with the death of Paul Kessler at a rally in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 5, according to law enforcement.

Loay Alnaji, 50, will be booked on a charge of involuntary manslaughter with a bail set at $1 million, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man, died from blunt-force head trauma following a confrontation with a counterprotester, amid simultaneous pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office said Kessler suffered from skull fractures and swelling and bruising of the brain and determined his death to be a homicide.

In the days following the incident, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said they did not have enough evidence to make an arrest in his death.

“Though an arrest has been made, we continue to encourage community members who may have information about this criminal investigation and have yet to come forward to please contact Detective Stump at (805) 384-4745,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Thursday.

The sheriff’s office asked that anyone who drove a vehicle with video recording equipment through the area of Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard between 3 and 4 p.m. local time on Nov. 5 to submit any footage they have.

Multiple people called the Ventura County Sheriff’s Communication Center to report an incident of battery at that corner, where pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations were taking place. About 75 to 100 people total were present, according to Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff.

Among those to call 911 was the suspect in the incident, who was attending the pro-Palestinian demonstration, according to Fryhoff.

Authorities arriving on the scene located Kessler and noted he was bleeding from the head and mouth, the sheriff said.

He was transported to a local hospital for what authorities said was “advanced medical treatment,” but he died from his injuries early on Nov. 6, officials said.

Fryhoff said the suspect remained at the scene and was interviewed.

“The suspect was cooperative and indicated he was involved in an altercation with Mr. Kessler,” Fryhoff told reporters last week.


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