Officials Release New Details In Homicide Investigation Of Jewish Man

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Lillian Tweten Contributor
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Law enforcement officials elaborated Tuesday on the ongoing investigation surrounding the death of a 69-year-old Jewish man in California.

Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man, was admitted to a hospital on Nov. 5 after a pro-Palestinian protester allegedly knocked him to the ground during a physical altercation, Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff said at a press conference. Kessler succumbed to his injuries just hours after being admitted to the hospital, and medical officials ruled that his death was the result of a homicide. (RELATED: NBC News Quietly Stealth-Edits Headline After Downplaying Death of Jewish Man Killed In Pro-Palestinian Protest)

The suspect is a 50-year-old man who attended the rally and admitted to being involved in the altercation, although he did not say whether he had instigated it, police said. Following Kessler’s death, officials searched the suspect’s home, but the sheriff declined to say what officers had found at the suspect’s home because of the ongoing investigation.

“Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime and this is being investigated as a homicide,” Fryhoff said.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Young said that Kessler had died from blunt force head trauma consistent with a fall, and ruled his manner of death as a homicide. Young said that the autopsy showed that Kessler had experienced several inter-cranium injuries, including a swelling brain, hemorrhaging, a skull fracture and bruising of the brain.

Both Young and Fryhoff repeatedly said that Kessler had sustained injuries from a “fall” and had received a “blow to the face” but did not refer to his death as a murder. Young also said that ruling the manner of death as a homicide meant that there had been an “interaction with another person … and another individual was involved in partially causing the death,” but did not mean that Kessler had been murdered.

Fryhoff declined to comment on whether the suspect had allegedly used a megaphone to bludgeon Kessler during the physical altercation.

Officials requested that witnesses send any video footage or photographs they might have of the incident. Officers said that accounts of the altercation conflicted because statements from pro-Palestinian witnesses vastly differed from accounts by pro-Israel witnesses.

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