LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies mistakenly shot to death a man who was fleeing from a knife-wielding attacker at a West Hollywood apartment, authorities announced Thursday.
John Winkler, an aspiring television producer, died at a hospital following Monday night’s confrontation.
Winkler had been taken hostage at knifepoint along with two other men inside a Palm Avenue apartment by Alexander McDonald, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement. McDonald, 27, then began stabbing the men and fighting with them in a rage, the statement alleged.
Deputies got a call that a man was stabbing someone and went to the apartment but nobody answered the door, authorities said.
Suddenly the door opened and a man rushed out.
“He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck,” the statement said.
Winkler followed and appeared to be “lunging at the back of the fleeing victim,” the statement said.
Three deputies opened fire, hitting both men. Winkler was mortally wounded by a single shot.
The bleeding man was shot in the leg and was hospitalized in stable condition.
Deputies burst into the apartment and allegedly saw McDonald choking a man on the floor. That man was treated for stab wounds and other injuries and released, according to the Sheriff’s Department statement.
McDonald, 27, was treated for minor injuries. County prosecutors have charged him with torture, murder and attempted murder and he remained jailed Thursday.
The shooting was “very tragic,” Interim Sheriff John Scott told the Los Angeles Times.
Deputies had been told the attacker was wearing a black shirt and Winkler was wearing a black shirt, Scott said.
Winkler was friends with two people who were taken hostage and he had rushed to the apartment when he heard them screaming, his roommate, Devin Richardson, told the Times.
“It’s just a really sad story,” Richardson said. “He basically went to help some neighbors and ends up getting shot.”
Winkler had moved to West Hollywood from Washington state six months ago to work in the entertainment industry, his friend said.