Man arrested in connection to pepper-spray incident at 'Free Palestine' protest in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. -- A 62-year-old man is in custody, accused of pepper-spraying three other men during a "Free Palestine" protest in north Fresno on Saturday.

Police arrested Brian Lee Turner in connection to the incident.

"It looks like he was having fun when he was pepper spraying us," says Faisal Aboelrish.

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Faisel Alqatami, Ahmad Qutami and Aboelrish were all inside the vehicle Turner targeted.

The three men were driving on Nees Avenue and were about to make a left turn onto Blackstone when the man pulled up next to them.

Detectives identified the suspect as 62-year-old Brian Turner of Fresno



Alqatami says the encounter started with Turner telling them that he "didn't support Palestine," followed by "(f-word) Palestine."

"We weren't really expecting that to happen," Alqatami said. "We were just protesting peacefully and he started being racist for no reason and got aggressive for no reason."

Police say an argument broke out between the cars and one of the victims got out of the car. That's when Turner sprayed all three of the men with pepper-spray.

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Investigators say the victim got back into the car and Turner sprayed them again.

Ahmad says Turner continued to say progressively hateful words.

"'Israel is going to kill all the Palestinians' and stuff like that, and then he pepper-sprayed us," he said.

All three men were hit in the face with pepper-spray. Aboelrish says some got in his mouth.

They say after using the spray, Turner sped off. Police say one of the victims got out of the car and tried to chase him on foot.

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"It burns your mouth so bad that you can't have anything," Aboelrish said. "Milk won't help. It just burns your lungs. I couldn't even breathe."

Ahmad says the pain was so intense he had to go to the hospital later that night.

The three victims have now recovered and say this act of aggression will not silence them.

Turner is charged with assault with a chemical or flammable substance. His bail is set at $150,000.

Police say they are continuing to investigate the pepper-spray incident.

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