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Ventura County Sheriff's Office
Thursday November 9th, 2023 :: 05:14 p.m. PST


Kessler Investigation Media Update

Nature of Incident: Update to Paul Kessler Homicide Investigation
Report Number: 23-142110
Location: Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks
Date & Time: 11/05/2023 at 3:20 PM
Unit(s) Responsible: Thousand Oaks Investigations Bureau, Ventura County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau, Ventura County Crime Scene Investigations, Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent

City of Residence

(V) Paul Kessler Thousand Oaks  
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office would like to start by expressing our sympathy for Mr. Kessler, his family, friends, and loved ones. We also acknowledge the public’s concern, as we know this incident has not just affected our community, rather it is far-reaching and has gained worldwide attention, both in media outlets and particularly on social media platforms. 
We felt it prudent to provide an update on the case, without providing specific details of the active investigation, which would undoubtedly compromise the integrity of any potential future prosecution.
First, we want to highlight something that has seemed to be misinterpreted by many, concerning the findings of the autopsy. As the Chief Medical Examiner of Ventura County, Dr. Christopher Young stated during Tuesday’s press conference, his office has determined that Mr. Kessler’s death was a homicide. A homicide determination from the medical examiner does not translate to a prosecutable murder or manslaughter (gross, voluntary, or involuntary) case, rather it establishes that Mr. Kessler’s death was not from natural causes, suicide, or unknown.  His death being ruled a homicide simply means his death was caused at the hands of another. This determination, in and of itself, does not provide sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for an immediate arrest of a suspect. The determination, though helpful to the subsequent criminal investigation, does not provide our investigators with the required probable cause to make an arrest and obtain a criminal filing from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.
Our investigators are working around the clock to track down leads, scrutinize electronic data, and corroborate witness statements.  For those who have been tracking this case in the news, and on social media, you are aware there are photos and videos prior to and following the incident. Currently, we do not have any footage of the actual incident taking place, which would be extremely helpful in this case and would undoubtedly show or could even refute criminal culpability. 
Many have expressed frustration and anger that no arrests have been made and question why the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office isn’t prosecuting the suspect. To be clear, law enforcement officers do not prosecute criminal cases, rather we investigate them, and we obtain evidence with the goal of obtaining enough evidence to establish probable cause so an arrest can be made. Prosecution lies in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office.  When law enforcement has enough probable cause to make an arrest and have the District Attorney file charges, it means they have objective evidence that indicates the suspect’s responsibility for the crime.  Probable cause is a requirement found in the Fourth Amendment that must be met before the police make an arrest. 
This case involves eyewitnesses who were present at the scene; however, many witness statements conflict with one another. Conflicting statements from multiple witnesses can make it difficult to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Witnesses with conflicting statements impair witness credibility, create reasonable doubt, cause unreliable testimony, and strain a prosecutor’s ability to prove a case. We are in constant communication with our District Attorney’s Office regarding this case.
In light of the tragic events surrounding the homicide of Paul Kessler, we understand this leaves our community feeling worried, and we know many have questions about what the Sheriff’s Office is doing to take precautions. 
We have and will continue to increase our patrols and presence at places of worship in response to rising global tensions and threats of attacks on religious sites, but let us be clear, we have had no intelligence of any specific threats to places of worship within our jurisdiction. There are no specific or credible threats against any particular community; however, we are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of all community members. We are taking these measures out of an abundance of caution.
Now, with respect to protests, rallies, and demonstrations, the First Amendment protects the right to assemble and express views through protest. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office will continue to play a critical role in preserving people’s fundamental right to peaceably assemble and in facilitating demonstrators’ safety and security as they exercise their First Amendment rights. 
Any law enforcement response to a mass gathering (including protests) must be measured and proportionate and ensure steps are taken to avoid heightening tensions and making the situation worse with our presence. We understand many may feel that inserting ourselves (uniformed law enforcement) into these gatherings will keep things calm, but that isn’t always the case.  Sometimes our mere presence can antagonize the situation and create unnecessary conflict.  Therefore, we must navigate through this with extreme caution and evaluate on a case-by-case basis.   
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office is asking for help from the public regarding this ongoing investigation.  Anyone who witnessed or has knowledge of the incident, or who was present at the demonstration is encouraged to contact Detective Stump at (805) 384-4745.
If there are any witnesses who may have been driving a vehicle in and around the area during the time of the incident who were operating vehicles that are equipped with video recording capabilities, such as Teslas, please reach out to investigators or utilize the link provided below to download and submit any relevant footage. 
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: or by scanning the following QR code:

Prepared by: Captain Dean Worthy
Sheriff’s Adjutant / PIO
News Release Date: November 9, 2023  
Media Follow-Up Contact: Captain Dean Worthy
(805) 654-2417
[email protected]
Senerey De Los Santos
(805) 654-3019
[email protected]
Sergeant Rob Yoos
(805) 654-2385
[email protected]
Approved by:
Undersheriff John Reilly  

Ventura County Sheriff's Office
800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93003

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 805-654-9511

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