A man who was fatally shot by deputies sent to a West Hollywood apartment building on a report of an assault by a knife-wielding man was actually one of three victims who had been attacked by the suspect, who was arrested at the scene, sheriff's officials said today.
The victim of the shooting, which happened around 9:30 p.m. Monday in the 900 block of Palm Avenue, was identified by the sheriff's department as 30-year-old John Winkler of West Hollywood. He died at a hospital of a single gunshot wound.
A friend told the Los Angeles Times that Winkler had moved to Los Angeles six months ago and had recently been hired as a producer on the television comedy "Tosh.0."
The deputies were responding to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon involving a man with a knife in an apartment complex, Lt. David Coleman of the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau said.
"The 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," he said.
Deputies staged at the front door of the apartment and tried to contact those inside, when "the door suddenly opened and a male victim came rushing out," Coleman said. "He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck.
Simultaneously, victim Winkler ran out the door, lunging at the back of the fleeing victim. Both ran directly at the deputies," he said. "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. Victim Winkler was struck by the gunfire and fell to the floor, and the male victim also collapsed, struck once by the gunfire."
Deputies then heard the sound of a fight coming from within the apartment and made entry, where they saw another male victim on the living room floor struggling with the suspect, who was later identified as 27-year-old Alexander McDonald, Coleman said.
"Suspect McDonald had overpowered the victim and was choking and tearing at his face," the lieutenant said, adding that the victim was nearly unconscious and a large knife was on the floor nearby.
The deputies subdued McDonald and took him into custody, he said. Investigators later learned that McDonald, who lived in the apartment, had allegedly held Winkler and two other men at knifepoint inside, Coleman said.
"In a rage, the suspect began stabbing the men and fighting with them as the deputies arrived," Coleman said. "One of the victims was a roommate of the suspect; Winkler and the other victim were visiting at the time of the incident."
The victim who had run out of the apartment was in stable condition at a hospital, where he was being treated for stab wounds to the neck and a gunshot wound to a leg, while the other victim was released from a hospital after being treated for stab wounds to his legs, arms and chest, Coleman said.
McDonald was taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries and released. He is being held on $4.1 million bail.
McDonald pleaded not guilty today to one count each of murder and torture and two counts of attempted murder, according to the District Attorney's Office. He is due back in court May 8.