Footage of the aftermath of the altercation emerged on social media, showing Kessler laying on the sidewalk in a pool of his own blood after suffering a head injury. He was taken away in an ambulance and later died.
"The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident and has not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime," they said in a statement.
Upon arrival at the intersection of Westlake and Thousand Oaks Blvd., "responding deputies located Kessler, who was suffering from a head injury. Witness accounts indicated that Kessler was involved in a physical altercation with counter-protestor(s). During the altercation, Kessler fell backwards and struck his head on the ground. Kessler was transported to an area hospital for advanced medical treatment. On November 6, 2023, Kessler succumbed to his injuries."
An autopsy performed by the Medical Examiner "determined the cause of death to be blunt force head injury and the manner of death homicide." The Sheriff's office states that "the incident appears to be isolated and not part of a large effort."
Photos shared to social media by Christina Buttons, who stated that she got the images from a source who was on the scene, showed both Kessler before and after he was injured, as well as an elderly man sitting on a curb being questioned by police, pointing to a megaphone that lies next to a Palestinian flag.
It had been alleged in earlier reporting that Kessler had been hit over the head with a megaphone by an anti-Israel protester. Kessler was waving an Israeli flag.
After Kessler was removed in an ambulance, those protesting for Palestinians and Hamas against Israel began chanting again, Buttons reported. Police had to move them away from the area where Kessler had lain on the sidewalk, his blood still fresh.
The protest was organized for Sunday, November 5. A post on Instagram, shared by Buttons, read "Join us in protest to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and call for a cease to all bombings and violence in Gaza. Do not entertain hecklers and maintain peace." It was called a "Freedom for Palestine Protest."
The violence began on October 7, when Hamas terrorists attacked and murdered more than 1,300 men, women and children. 250 persons were kidnapped by Hamas, 30 of them children. Other than a few elderly women, these hostages have not been released.
The Sheriff's office will hold a press conference on Tuesday at 10 am local time.
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