West Hollywood, CA- The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department admitted Thursday that they shot and killed an innocent man who had been caught in the middle of a hostage situation Monday night.

John Winkler, 30, was involved in an altercation between Alexander McDonald, 27, and two other people at around 9:30 Monday night. Winkler went to a friend’s apartment to try to offer help after he heard screaming coming from the apartment. McDonald was allegedly holding two people hostage inside and one of the victims had been stabbed.

Deputies came to the apartment in response to a call about an assault taking place, and once they arrived Winkler and one of the victims rushed outside the apartment. According to a statement from the sheriff’s department, “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 mistaken for McDonald, the stabbing suspect, and was fatally shot on sight. The second male victim who had fled the apartment with Winkler was also shot by deputies, and was injured by a bullet in his leg in addition to his stab wounds. Inside the apartment, deputies found McDonald and the third male victim, with McDonald choking the man and “tearing at his face”.

The admission of mistaken identity from police contradicts an earlier statement that was made shortly after the shooting: “As the deputies approached the apartment, they were confronted by two males exiting the residence. The men aggressed the deputies and a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” Deputy Lillian Peck said.

McDonald has been charged with one count of murder (presumably the murder of Winkler), two counts of attempted murder, and one count of torture. The three deputies who shot at Winkler and the victim currently have no charges filed against them, and an internal investigation of the shooting has begun.

Winkler had recently moved to California from Washington to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He had just landed a job as a production assistant on the popular Comedy Central Show Tosh.O.

 

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