The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that on Monday night, deputies responding to a hostage situation in West Hollywood shot and killed a 30-year-old Tosh.0 production assistant after mistakenly identifying him as an assailant.
According to the Los Angeles Times, John Winkler had gone to a neighbor’s apartment at 939 Palm Avenue, the same apartment complex where Kurtland Ma was brutally stabbed in an unrelated incident days earlier, after hearing cries for help.
Winkler was reportedly trapped in the apartment with two other victims until police arrived. According to a statement from the Department, “attempts to contact the people in the apartment” were made before entering. Winkler was shot once while fleeing the apartment with another victim:
As deputies continued attempts to contact the people in the apartment, the apartment door suddenly opened and a male victim came rushing out. He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck. Simultaneously, Victim Winkler ran out of the door, lunging at the back of the fleeing victim. Both ran directly at the deputies. Winkler was similar to the description of the suspect and was wearing a black shirt. Believing Winkler was the assailant and the assault was ongoing and he would attack the entry team; three deputies fired their duty weapons at him.
Officers eventually identified the actual assailant, 27-year-old Alexander McDonald, moments later in the apartment while he was “choking the third victim and tearing his face.” Deputies later learned that McDonald had been holding the three men hostage until they arrived, and then began stabbing them all in a frenzied attack.
Winkler was reportedly a recent West Hollywood transplant, moving six months ago from Washington to pursue his dreams. “He was just boisterous and excited,” his aunt told the LA Times.” He was just getting his foot in the door of life. Just, the light was right around the corner…and [now] he’s gone.”
The man who initially exited the apartment with Winkler was also shot. He was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to the leg and stab wounds to the neck. The third victim was also treated for stab wounds to the leg, arms, and chest.
McDonald is behind held on $4 million bail and is being charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and one count of torture.
The LA Times also reports that an initial news release on Tuesday claimed the two men who were shot “aggressed the deputies.”