West Hollywood Man Killed By Police After Being Mistakenly Identified As Stabbing Suspect

Victim John Winkler (left) and stabbing suspect Alexander McDonald
Victim John Winkler (left) and stabbing suspect Alexander McDonald

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.”

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  • hotboyvb81

    how many counts of murder are the deputies up on????? The police are getting totally out of hand!

  • Ronbo

    Why are the police shooting first and asking questions later? It’s time we have a national discussion about why the fuck police are getting so much more bloodlust while actual crime is coming down?

    It’s time police were held to a higher standard than Barney Fife.

  • queerbec

    Are the deputies even being investigated? I love how the first release FROM THE POLICE said the first two men aggressed the police! Let’s start the lying early!! That’s probably standard operating procedure for the department, until an inconvenient witness comes forward to contradict the official police version. Well I hope the family sues the police for a hundred mill or so.

  • stranded

    Wtf are police officers trained for? How is their first response is to shoot? Couldn’t a group of police officers take a man down, even if he had a knife? What a fucking shame, here’s the guy running for his life only to get shot by the cops. At the end of the day the sicko murder is the one still alive.

  • B Damion

    Oh sh*t!

    A white man is killed by police over mistaken identity? Well now the world is officially coming to an end.

    Cause…cause this is just a normal day in blackville.

    If I sound bitter or unempathetic, it’s because I mean to sound bitter and unempathetic.

  • seaguy

    Shoot first ask questions later is that the LA county sheriffs protocol now? Sad and I hope his family sues that sheriff and that the deputies who fired the shots are fired.

  • ingyaom

    Are we supposed to assume the deceased was gay?

  • IcarusD

    So sad. I heard about this a few hours ago, where they were reporting that the victim was a staff member of the Tosh.0 TV show.

  • Blackceo

    @B Damion:


  • alterego1980

    @B Damion: I hear what you’re saying, and I get it. But it still makes you a huge a$$hole.

  • Captain Obvious

    @B Damion: This, but without the aggression towards white people.

    Los Angeles and the Valley are both horrible places with even worse “law enforcement”. If you ever need anything, do not call them. Just realize you’ve moved to HELL, and pack your bags.

    That place is quite literally evil, the police are insane(no I really mean this, they are, and they laugh at people who try to make reports), and they let crime run rampant until it’s seriously way out of hand to the point that this occurs.

    This is barely the tip of the iceberg. The things that go on in LA are nothing short of inane and no one over 30 in their right mind should even consider going there.

    I got out with my sanity just barely intact, have recovered, and thank God I made it out.

    I’m not saying this for shits and giggles. The place is a giant nuthouse and they know it, that’s why the cops don’t take anything seriously… until it’s too late.

    I remember getting roaring laughter in my phone trying to report something and another time going in person and hearing nothing but roaring laughter in another room. They’re total idiots and completely unprofessional. You shouldn’t be laughing at all in a police station, at least not where civilians can hear it… and seriously what’s even so funny in there?

    You know who else laughs during inappropriate situations? Mentally unstable people. But cops will be the first to suggest you’re mentally unstable at the drop of a hat(because you dared to call them in Los freaking Angeles crime central), while they taze innocent people, shoot innocent people, kill innocent people, and get off free.

  • Captain Obvious

    I also forgot to add that if you somehow piss them off(and pissing off a mentally unstable person takes zero effort) they will harass you. Just leave the place, wake up, book a flight, and go back home where you were cream of the crop that made you think you were destined for tv or whatever. In LA you’re nothing special, back in your home town you are. Live it up where you were happy, there’s no place like home, Dorothy.

  • gaym50ish

    Cops that are supposed to “serve and protect” have become concerned only about protecting THEMSELVES. They use deadly force at the slightest provocation if they feel “threatened.”

    In my community, two unarmed guys in a car were shot to death in a hail of bullets because their car started rolling toward the cops — and of course they felt “threatened,” probably because they made the driver so nervous he neglected to set the parking break.

  • petensfo

    What a mess… to me at least, it reads like a tough call for the police. How long was the situation going on? What exactly did they know about what was happening? Having a difficult time distinguishing between suspects & assailants covered in blood seems plausible. I have no police experience but couldn’t a less lethal action have been taken, or was there no time to get their ‘ducks in a row’?

    This seems freaky. I heard about it on NPR briefly, but nothing on TV. I guess it didn’t involve a white woman, or maybe West Hollywood makes it gay so it’s not worthy enough to bump more nonsense about Oscar Pestorius, a missing plane, or a lady killing her boyfriend with a stiletto.

    God help us.

  • Bobby Christina Crawford

    I lived in 909 N Palm Ave for 18 years.

    And while that means NOTHING to any of you, it gives me a personal connection to the story. AND if any of you want to have a better insight to the area/geography of that particular area …feel free to notify me with a comment. In addition I watch Tosh.O and am openly gay.

  • Bobby Christina Crawford

    @B Damion: No….it sounds disgusting and bigoted.

  • dk_farrell

    From the other stories I have read the young man shot was wearing the same clothes as the assailant. When the two men ran out of the doors of the building the deputies saw the first man bleeding and the man behind him appeared to lunge at the injured man in front of him. When deputies saw the young man lunge they thought that the attack was still on going and that he was still trying to stab the victim that is why they opened fire.

    This was a tough call, but how many would be screaming and wanting to bring the deputies up on charges if they had done nothing and the second man had actually been the attacker and delivered the fat stab wound to the victim with three deputies standing there watching it?

    This was a mistake, a tragic one, but a mistake. Having worked for a criminal defense attorney I can I assure that I do not believe that police officers are always right and do no harm but this is one of those times when the officers were acting in good faith, in the scope of their duties, and made a mistake.

    It is tragic for all involved, especially the young man’s family.

  • felixelcat

    As hostages, people should ALWAYS exit with hands up/on their head, in surrender.

    May his soul rest in peace and his family find solace soon.

  • Bobby Christina Crawford

    I posted a comment on this subject that was deleted. While it was incredibly cornball I am assuming it was considered tasteless. Do they send notes when you are censored/deleted to let you know the reason?

    I am just curious. And sincerely apologize if it was deemed offensive. As punishment, I am not touching myself down there for the next 8 hours.

  • Jack86

    @dk_farrell: that would be a valid argument but didn’t they shoot both of the men exiting the apartment…. Saying “we shot one to protect the other” kinda doesn’t work in this instance…

  • barkomatic

    This is a horrible situation all around. The description of the crime sounds like something out of a horror movie and I can understand the hostages just running for their lives without thinking.

    The cop probably feels terrible for shooting the hostage. In this type of really intense event, a man right behind a guy with bleeding neck who are both charging towards the officer–I guess I can understand the mistake if that’s the way it went down.

    We all need to back off a bit and see what the facts are though.

  • Chris

    This is what happens when the police become over-militarized. How many more similar events must we read about before law enforcement gets weaned off its shoot-first mentality and its military-grade weaponry gets confiscated?

Comments are closed.