By John Antczak and Julie Watson

A Southern California college professor was arrested Thursday in the death of a Jewish protester during demonstrations over the Israel-Hamas war.

Loay Abdelfattah Alnaji, 50, was booked into jail on suspicion of of involuntary manslaughter — the unintentional killing of another person, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said. The district attorney's office said it was reviewing the case and expects to make a charging decision later Thursday.

A man who answered the phone at a mobile number listed for Alnaji in public records said he did not want to comment. He did not give his name.

Paul Kessler, 69, died early Nov. 6 at a hospital following a confrontation the previous day with the suspect during what started as a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Thousand Oaks, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles, Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff told reporters on Nov. 7.

Kessler was among a group of pro-Israel demonstrators who showed up at the event that was advertised as a peaceful gathering to support Palestinians, officials said.

Fryhoff at the time said deputies determined Kessler fell backward and struck his head on the ground but that investigators did not have a clear view from video footage of what they described as a physical altercation between the two men before the fall. He asked the public for help in providing additional footage.

The suspect stayed at the scene and told deputies he had called 911, Fryhoff said, adding that authorities later briefly detained him for questioning and searched his home in Moorpark.

Fryhoff said investigators had received conflicting information from witnesses on both sides about what took place, impairing witness credibility and making it difficult to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The department did not respond to questions Thursday from The Associated Press as to whether additional footage or other evidence prompted the arrest.

A short video clip surfaced showing Kessler on the ground, but there haven’t been any videos released showing the actual confrontation.

County Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Young said at the time that an autopsy found Kessler died from head injuries consistent with a fall. Young also said Kessler had injuries that could be consistent with a blow to the face but that it was unclear what caused his fall.

Edward Obayashi, a former San Diego police officer and special prosecutor, said he is not surprised by the arrest on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, the lowest level charge for a death. Additional charges, including for a hate crime, could still be considered, said Obayashi, who made one of the first arrests in the state under California’s hate crime law more than three decades ago.

“We have a very high profile incident, obviously, given the backdrop of what’s going on in the world," he said. "So there is a lot of pressure on the authorities. The default position is making an arrest.”

Demonstrations have been widespread and tensions are escalating in the United States as the death toll rises in the Israel-Hamas war.

Alnaji, a professor of computer science at Moorpark College, had espoused pro-Palestinian views on his Facebook page and other social media accounts, many of which have since been taken down, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles said in a statement that it was grateful for the work of sheriff's investigators.

“This arrest shows that violence towards our Jewish community will not be tolerated,” the federation said.

Watson reported from San Diego.

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