By Signal Staff
A 50-year-old Moorpark man has been arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the homicide of former Santa Clarita Valley resident Paul Kessler in a Nov. 5 conflict between rival protesters demonstrating about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Loay Abdelfattah Alnaji was arrested Thursday morning and was to be booked at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility on suspicion of California Penal Code section 192(b) – involuntary manslaughter, according to a news release from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. His bail was to be set at $1 million, the release said.
Kessler, carrying an Israel flag and voicing his objections to the surprise Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel that killed an estimated 1,200 people, mostly civilians, was struck during an altercation with rival pro-Palestine protesters at the intersection of Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard, in Thousand Oaks.
According to published media accounts of witness statements, the 69-year-old Kessler was struck by a rival protester — possibly with a megaphone — and fell to the ground, striking his head.
No arrest had been made until Thursday, as the Ventura County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau investigated the incident.
“Though an arrest has been made, we continue to encourage community members who may have information about this criminal investigation and have yet to come forward to please contact Detective (Corey) Stump at 805-384-4745,” the department’s release said.
“Any persons who were driving a vehicle equipped with video recording equipment, such as Teslas, in the area of Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Nov. 5, are encouraged to reach out to detectives or utilize the link provided below to download and submit video footage,” the release said.
If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may contact Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477). Those who wish to share video or pictures of the incident can do so and can remain anonymous by using the following link: venturasheriffca.evidence.com/axon/community-request/public/23-142110.
According to a former resident who knew him, Kessler lived in Canyon Country until about 20 years ago when he relocated to Ventura County.
Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami, in Santa Clarita, released a statement after hearing of the arrest, saying that “the single charge of involuntary manslaughter seems inadequate.”
“Personally, I am disappointed that the defendant was not charged with the hate crime,” Blazer said. He added that, since “Mr. Kessler was expressing his support for the Jewish people and the state of Israel,” the circumstances “should be sufficient to qualify for a hate crime charge.”