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Pro-Palestinian protester ‘tried to bait’ elderly Jewish man before fatal altercation, witness says

A pro-Israel demonstrator claims he witnessed the deadly altercation that left Jewish man Paul Kessler dead during a duel at a California rally on Sunday, saying an unnamed suspect “attempted to lure” the elderly man. he told Fox News Digital.

Jonathan Oswaks, a Jewish American, befriended Kessler at a previous “We Stand With Israel” event in Thousand Oaks. Oswaks, also 69, was photographed holding American and Gadsen flags with Kessler hours before his fatal crash in footage provided to Fox News Digital. He said he witnessed an altercation between two protesters firsthand on Tuesday.

Oswaks said the 50-year-old suspect yelled directly into Kessler’s face with a megaphone before suddenly hitting the older man in the face with the bullhorn.

“I could clearly see the megaphone flying through the air.” [toward Kessler]. “He had it and it had a red string attached to it. There’s no question about it, he threw the punch,” Oswaks said of the incident.

“These are not unseen. Don’t take it for what it is,” Oswaks said.

Elderly Jewish man dies after clash with pro-Palestinian protesters at California rally

Jonathan Oswaks, second from the right, talks about his final moments with Paul Kessler at the scene of a 69-year-old Jewish man who fell during an altercation with pro-Palestinian protesters on Sunday. On Monday, Mr. Kessler succumbed to his injuries. (Fox News Digital Image Direct)

However, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office claimed that “conflicting” witness statements prevented the arrest of the suspected pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Ventura County Sheriff Jim Freihoff announced Tuesday that the 50-year-old suspect was detained for about two hours Monday while police executed search warrants on his vehicle and home. Early that morning, around 1:10 a.m., Kessler was pronounced dead at Los Robles Regional Medical Center. His manner of death was ruled a homicide by the Ventura County Coroner.

It is unclear what police searched for and what they found. After Kessler suffered fatal injuries around 3:20 p.m. Sunday, footage seen by Fox News Digital shows police removing the handcuffs and questioning Kessler as he sits on the curb. Ta. Citing the ongoing investigation, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office will not release a probable cause affidavit for the warrant to Fox News Digital.

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Paul Kessler and Jonathan Oswaks

Jonathan Oswaks, 69, was photographed holding an American flag with Gadsden hours before Paul Kessler was punched in an altercation with pro-Palestinian protesters. (Courtesy of FOX News)

At the same day’s protests that preceded the fatal incident, Oswaks said the assailant protester used a megaphone to yell directly into the faces of pro-Israel protesters. This behavior was seen in the background while first responders tended to Kessler at the scene. Scene from footage reviewed by Fox News Digital.

“I can’t tell you how many times I asked them to take it out of my ear,” Oswaks said. “And I wasn’t polite about it…He tried to seduce me and I didn’t take the bait. [Then] He walked across the street and tried to lure Paul. ”

Another witness, who requested anonymity, said the suspect and other pro-Palestinian protesters were “very aggressive.”

“from [what I saw]it looks like it could be a targeted hate crime,” the man told FOX News Digital.[The suspect wanted] Maybe not to kill or hurt him, but to get in his face and get into an argument. ”

Investigators still cannot rule out a hate crime in Kessler’s death, he said at a news conference Tuesday.

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Paul Kessler being loaded into an ambulance

Paul Kessler was loaded into an ambulance at the corner of Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Sunday, hours before he succumbed to his injuries. (Courtesy of Fox News Digital)

Oswaks said there were “a number of altercations” between groups of protesters that day and at previous protests at the intersection. He claimed that other protesters and the suspect in Kessler’s death had previously “targeted and stalked” them.

“The open season on Jews has begun. Now someone is dying,” Oswaks told Fox News Digital. “What does that mean? Jewish lives don’t matter, right?”

“It’s the season of exposure for Jews – someone is dying now.”

In addition to Kessler’s internal brain injuries, County Coroner Dr. Christopher Young said Kessler also suffered cuts to the left side of his face.

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Paul Kessler is hit in the head and lies on the ground.

Paul Kessler, 69, died Sunday after an altercation broke out with an anonymous pro-Palestinian protester in Ventura County, California. (Courtesy of Fox News Digital)

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Paul Kessler monument installed at a gas station in Ventura County, California

A monument to Paul Kessler was installed Tuesday near a gas station in Ventura County, California. (Fox News Digital Image Direct)

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a press conference that there was no indication the demonstration was anything other than “peaceful” and that patrol cars, rather than full-time officers, were regularly patrolling the scene.

A fellow demonstrator who got to know Kessler during a previous protest organized by We Stand With Israel called him a “very passionate Jew.”

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in California

Pro-Palestinian protesters can be seen across the street as Paul Kessler is loaded into an ambulance and questioned by police. (Courtesy of Fox News Digital)

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“We joked because I said, ‘I’m a conservative — just a conservative Jew, not a conservative.’ [Kessler] He laughed and said we disagree politically. He had a good sense of humor when I knew him. ”

Oswaks claimed that if the situation had been reversed, “he would have been taken away.”

“If I had hit someone with a megaphone or hit someone with my fist, I would have been charged with inciting a riot and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and I would have been charged with inciting a riot and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. “I feel very strongly about that,” he said.

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