The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest in the death of a Jewish man who died after an alleged altercation with a pro-Palestinian demonstrator in Thousand Oaks.
Loay Abdelfattah Alnaji, 50, of Moorpark, was arrested Thursday morning on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, the VCSO said in a news release.
He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Ventura County Main Jail and is due to appear in Ventura County Superior Court on Monday.
Authorities say Paul Kessler, 69, died from a severe head injury after an altercation with Alnaji during dueling protests at the intersection of Westlake and Thousand Oaks boulevards on Nov 5.
After the incident, the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles said Kessler was “struck in the head by a megaphone wielded by a pro-Palestinian protestor,” though investigators said there were conflicting reports as to what happened.
Video showed him lying on the ground suffering from a head wound. He was transported to a hospital where died the next day.
A few days after the incident, Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff said investigators had “not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime,” but they lacked enough evidence to determine if a crime had been committed.
It’s unclear what new evidence, if any, has been found to warrant the arrest. An announcement from the Ventura County District Attorney’s office is expected later Thursday.
The JFLA released a statement in support of the arrest after it was announced.
“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 statement said. “This arrest shows that violence towards our Jewish community will not be tolerated. We will continue to monitor the case to help ensure justice is served. Our heartfelt condolences continue to be with the family of Paul Kessler and may his memory forever be a blessing.”
Alnaji is a computer science professor at Moorpark College, according to the Los Angeles Times. His bio was no longer publicly available on the college’s website as of Thursday morning, but the Ventura County Community College District issued a statement announcing that Alnaji was placed on administrative leave.
“Necessary protocols have been taken to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, which will remain our top priority,” the statement said. “VCCCD remains committed to cooperating fully with law enforcement as they continue their investigation. We will also ensure that our college communities have access to the necessary support and resources during this challenging period.”
Investigators continue to ask that anyone with video of the incident reach out to them at this website.