LA deputies shot a hostage after mistaking him for a stabbing-spree suspect at a West Hollywood apartment complex Monday night. The victim, a 30-year-old aspiring television producer named John Winkler, died at the hospital later that night.
According to police, Winkler, who reportedly worked on Comedy Central's "Tosh.0" TV series, was running from the apartment door several steps behind a man who was bleeding profusely from the neck. In addition to his proximity to the stabbing victim, Winkler reportedly resembled the suspect's description, as he was wearing a black shirt and had a slim build.
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Three responding Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies opened fire on Winkler. In addition to mortally wounding Winkler, the man who was bleeding from the neck was shot in the leg by the police. He is said to be recovering at an LA hospital, The Associated Press reported
"Taking the life of an innocent person is a police officer's greatest nightmare," Interim Los Angeles County Sheriff John Scott said Thursday at a news conference.
The actual alleged stabber is a computer programmer with no criminal history named Alexander McDonald, who lived in the apartment complex and reportedly climbed over the balcony where Winkler and his friends were before initiating the attack. McDonald was reportedly holding a 10-inch butcher knife in his hand when he jumped onto the balcony.
According to the Sheriff Department's Homicide Lt. David Coleman, there was nothing in McDonald's past behavior that was consistent with the attack, the AP reported.
"We don't know what caused his rage or what caused his outburst," Coleman said, adding it was unclear whether drugs were involved in the attack.
When police gained access to the apartment, they found the 27-year-old McDonald allegedly choking another man on the floor while tearing at his face.
McDonald was restrained by police and treated for minor injuries. He was subsequently charged with torture, murder, and two counts of attempted murder.
According to the Sheriff's Department, the deputies involved in the shooting were all veteran officers and who have been temporarily removed from patrol. They are, however, expected to return to full duty by next week, the AP noted.
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