Originally posted at 2:22 p.m. April 10, 2014. Edited with new details.
The man shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies at a West Hollywood apartment on Monday was not the suspect, but a victim being held at knifepoint, deputies said today.
Deputies have in custody Alexander McDonald, 27, whom the Los Angeles County District’s Attorney’s Office has charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of torture. He pleaded not guilty today and is due back in court May 8.
Dead is John Winkler, 30, of West Hollywood. A family representative told Patch that he moved to the area just last year after graduating from the Seattle Film Institute with dreams of a career in Hollywood. City News Service reported Winkler had recently been hired as a producer on the television comedy Tosh.0.
In earlier press releases, Winkler -- unnamed at the time -- was described as the suspect.
In a press release, the sheriff’s department describe in detail the incident, which took place at 9:29 p.m. on Monday in the 900 block of Palm Avenue.
The call came in as an “assault with a deadly weapon, man with a knife,” the release says. Informants told the deputies there were two males residing in the apartment and described the suspect as a male, white, thin build, wearing a black shirt.
As deputies prepared to make entry outside the apartment door, two men came stumbling out. The first was “covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck,” the release says.
Following him was Winkler, deputies say, making a “lunging” motion. Winkler fit the general description informants had given and he 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,” the press release says. “Victim Winkler was struck by the gunfire and fell to the floor, and the [first] male victim also collapsed; struck once by the gunfire.”
Inside, deputies discovered two more men on the floor in a struggle.
Deputies believed McDonald had overpowered the victim and was allegedly choking and tearing at his face, officials said.
“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 news release says. “The suspect was taken into custody without further incident.”
The Winkler family representative, who asked not to be named, said he didn’t live with McDonald, but the two were friends. He and some buddies got a call that night that McDonald was “acting crazy” and needed help.
Winkler and his friends were just “trying to calm Alex down,” said Winkler’s relative.
Homicide detectives believe that instead, McDonald held his friends captive while “in a rage.”
The victim who stumbled through the door first and was shot in the leg while deputies took aim at Winkler is in stable condition, the sheriff’s department reports.
The victim from inside the apartment, who suffered stab wounds to the face, legs and chest, has been treated for his injuries and released, according to the department.
McDonald’s bail has been set at $4 million.
City News Service contributed to this report.