The suspect in the death of 69-year-old Paul Kessler on Sunday at a pro-Israel rally in Ventura County, in the Los Angeles area, remained at the scene and is cooperating with law enforcement, Jim Fryhoff, the county sheriff, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We are committed to gathering all the facts surrounding the incident,” Fryhoff said, calling the investigation ongoing and fluid.
The sheriff, who offered condolences to the victim’s friends and family, said his department received multiple calls at 3:20 p.m. on Nov. 5 from attendees of a Freedom for Palestine rally and what he called a counter-protest by a group called We Are Pro-Israel. Each group drew about 100 people, Fryhoff said.
The suspect, who was one of those who called 911, remained at the scene and cooperated with law enforcement. The suspect reported being involved in an altercation with Kessler, who was conscious when medical personnel arrived, according to Fryhoff.
Kessler was taken to Los Robles Regional Medical Center, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in critical condition. On Monday, at 2:43 p.m., the hospital informed the sheriff’s office that Kessler had died from his injuries.
The Major Crimes Bureau initiated an investigation. Christopher Young, the chief medical examiner, performed an autopsy on Kessler’s body.
“The cause of death has been certified as blunt force trauma,” said Young. He clarified that the cause of death is listed as a homicide.
“This means that the death occurred at the hands of another person,” he added.
After a search warrant was served, the suspect was detained after a traffic stop in Simi Valley and his home searched. The suspect was later released.
At this time, the sheriff’s office has made no arrests. It has received conflicting reports from witnesses, it says. It asks those with photos or video of what happened to contact Ventura County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.