(VitalNews.org) – A 69-year-old Jewish man was struck and killed at a rally in Westlake Village, California, on Sunday November 5. Two rallies, one pro-Israel and one Pro-Palestine, were taking place in the same area at the same time. At one point in the afternoon’s proceedings, Paul Kessler was waving an Israeli flag with other protestors when a group of pro-Palestinian protestors are alleged to have made their way over to him and his group. They are reported to have been confrontational, and at one point a man is alleged to have hit Kessler in the head with a megaphone. Kessler then fell and hit his head on the ground. He was taken to hospital for treatment but died from his injuries the following day.
The male suspect was identified quickly, with police speaking to him at the scene. Ventura police said in their press statement that he was still cooperating with police enquiries, although he has not yet been arrested, despite Kessler’s death being ruled a homicide. A verdict of homicide does not automatically result in any charges, although there remains the possibility of charges being made against the suspect.
Footage taken at the rally as Kessler lay injured on the ground and after he was taken to hospital show Pro-Palestinian protestors continuing to chant in the immediate area, even with Kessler’s blood close to their feet. Even with police officers on the scene, pro-Palestinian protestors could be heard chanting slogans such as “Hitler should’ve smashed you” and “you will burn in hell”.
John von Colln, who filmed much of the rally footage, has expressed his anger at police for not arresting the suspect, saying that he believed it to be murder. Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff said that he could not be sure that it was murder at this time, with conflicting witness statements and a lack of footage of the strike itself. He added that Kessler’s death is being investigated as a homicide, and that it may still be charged as a hate crime.
Paul Kessler, a married father of two, was described by Rabbi Ari Averbach as a private man committed to his family, a family left heartbroken and shocked by his sudden death.
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