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Mistaken identity: Aspiring TV producer shot dead

NEED TO KNOW
  • John Winkler mistakenly killed by deputies, authorities acknowledged Thursday
  • Winkler, two other men held captive at knifepoint by suspect
Mistaken identity: Aspiring TV producer shot dead

An aspiring TV producer was shot and killed Monday by deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in a deadly case of mistaken identity, authorities announced Thursday.

John Winkler, 30, was in an apartment in West Hollywood where authorities say he and two other men were held captive at knifepoint.

“Deputies were told by informants there were only two males residing in the apartment and described the suspect as a male, white, thin build, wearing a black shirt,” a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department news release states. 

An entry team assembled outside the apartment and announced themselves but received no response. That’s when the apartment door suddenly opened and a male came rushing out, police said.

“He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck,” according to the news release.

At the same time, deputies said Winkler ran out of the door and lunged at the back of the fleeing victim. Authorities said both of the victims ran directly at the deputies.

Winkler was wearing a black shirt similar to the description of the suspect, authorities said.

“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,” the news release states. Both men were hit by gunfire.

Winkler was transported to a local hospital where he later died from a single gunshot wound.

Winkler was a production assistant for the Comedy Central show, "Tosh.O." Comedy Central released the following statement to CNN, “Comedy Central and ‘Tosh.0’ extend their deepest condolences to the family of John Winkler.  We only had the privilege of working with him for a short while and extend heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends during this tragic time.”  

Once deputies entered the apartment, they said they saw another male victim lying on the living room floor fighting with the suspect, now identified as 27-year-old Alexander McDonald.

McDonald had overpowered the victim and was choking and tearing at his face, police said.

“Deputies could see the victim was about to go unconscious and a large knife was on the floor near them. The deputies were able to use physical force to subdue the suspect and end the assault,” the release said.

Upon further investigation, authorities said they learned that the suspect, in a rage, began stabbing the men and fighting with them once deputies arrived.

One of the victims was a roommate of McDonald, according to deputies. Winkler and the other victim were visiting at the time of the incident, deputies said.

The second victim who ran outside of the apartment just before Winkler was shot was treated for stab wounds to the neck and gunshot wound to the leg. He is in stable condition.

The third victim was treated for stab wounds to the legs, arms and chest. He has since been released from the hospital.

McDonald was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital. He is currently in custody and charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of torture. His bail has been set at $4 million.

“I have no doubt the entire Sheriff’s Department mourns the death of John Winkler, none more than the deputies involved,” Los Angeles County Sheriff John Scott said at a news conference Thursday. 

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