The murderer of Paul Kessler, the 69-year-old Jewish man who was killed at a pro-Palestinian rally in Ventura County, is still walking free despite numerous eyewitness accounts identifying Loay Alnaji, a computer science teacher at Ventura Community College, as the man who hit Kessler with a megaphone, knocking him to the ground.
Kessler died the next day. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department executed a warrant on Alnaji’s home on Sunday evening. Law enforcement says that Alnaji is cooperating.
Eyewitnesses are certain of the events that transpired that led to Kessler’s death.
“They were both on an even ground, and they were yelling at each other, and then the man brought his megaphone up and hit Paul, and Paul went down,” one unidentified witness told ABC Los Angeles.
Kessler was accompanied to the protest by a friend, Jonathan Oswaks.
“He stalked us. He got nowhere with the bigger guy, so he went after the smaller guy,’”Oswaks, 69, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I could see a punch. The reason I know I could see a punch is because it was the white megaphone flying through the air.”
Some witnesses have called for the man who hit Kessler to be arrested and charged with murder.
But Sheriff’s deputies are not convinced they have a watertight case and on Tuesday appealed for photos and videos of the incident.
‘What exactly transpired isn’t crystal clear right now,’ Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff said.
‘I can just tell you the information we’re getting is conflicting with one another. There was clearly an interaction between the two but what that level of interaction is is still unclear.’
Fryhoff said, ‘Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime and this is being investigated as a homicide.’
UPDATE: we are hearing the Ventura County Sheriff intends to charge Loay Alnaji in Paul Kessler’s death with a hate crime enhancement.
Once an arrest is made, StopAntisemitism strongly encourages DA Nasarenko to prosecute Alnaji to the fullest extent of the law. https://t.co/77VaT40tpW
— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) November 9, 2023
“I saw the white megaphone come across. I saw the red mouthpiece for the megaphone, and I could see that the lanyard was trailing,” Oswaks said. “And I said to John, I said, ‘Hey, they’re throwing punches over there, go over there.’”
Part of the delay in arresting Alnaji could be that the blow to Kessler’s head by the megaphone was not the cause of his death. What killed Paul Kessler was his head hitting the sidewalk pavement, fracturing his skull. The difference is important as far as the severity of the crime he’ll be charged with. Alnaji will be charged with anything from manslaughter to first-degree murder with the hate crime enhancement.
This is a case where the DA and the Sherrif’s Department want to make sure their ducks are all in a row. Given the international scrutiny, this case is getting, an air-tight case is called for.