update deskU.S. News

Ventura County sheriff arrests suspect in killing of Paul Kessler

"This arrest shows that violence towards our Jewish community will not be tolerated," stated the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

The crime scene where Paul Kessler, 69, falls to the ground at a pro-Palestinian rally in the Los Angeles area of California on Nov. 6, 2023. Source: StopAntisemitism.org.
The crime scene where Paul Kessler, 69, falls to the ground at a pro-Palestinian rally in the Los Angeles area of California on Nov. 6, 2023. Source: StopAntisemitism.org.

The Ventura County sheriff announced the arrest of Loay Abdelfattah Alnaji, 50, on Nov. 16 in connection with the death of 69-year-old Paul Kessler from injuries sustained at a pro-Israel rally in the Los Angeles area on Nov. 5.

Alnaji’s bail is set at $1 million, the sheriff’s office announced. The suspect is to be booked at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility.

The sheriff’s office encourages anyone with evidence, including video footage, of Kessler’s death to come forward.

A page for Loay Alnaji on the website of the Ventura County Community College District returned an error message, stating “You are not authorized to access this page.” But an archived version of the page identifies Alnaji as a full-time professor at the community college who teaches computer architecture and organization, program concepts methodology and server-side development using PHP.

Alnaji holds a doctorate in business administration with a minor in information systems and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in computer science, per the archived site.

“We are grateful for the swift work of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in response to the tragic death of Mr. Paul Kessler,” the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles told JNS in a statement. “This arrest shows that violence towards our Jewish community will not be tolerated.”

Federation said it will “continue to monitor the case to help ensure justice is served” and sends “heartfelt condolences” to the victim’s family.

Kessler sustained a head injury during a pro-Israel rally on Nov. 5. His death was officially ruled a homicide.

The sheriff has said his department received multiple calls at 3:20 p.m. that Sunday 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.

A suspect, who was one of those who called 911, remained at the scene and cooperated with law enforcement. That 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 Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and a rabbi who spoke to witnesses claimed Kessler was struck with a megaphone just before his fall,” the New York Post reported.

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