A young man who had come to Hollywood in pursuit of his dreams as a television producer was fatally shot by police in a case of mistaken identity on Monday, April 7. 30-year-old John Winkler had only moved from Washington state six months earlier, but had found work at the very popular Comedy Central show, hosted by Daniel Tosh. What started out as an evening of “hanging” with some friends, turned into a bloody nightmare, when a mentally unstable man, wielding a knife intruded on Winkler and his friends. When police arrived on the scene, they accidentally shot and killed the Tosh.0 production assistant – who they assumed was the assailant.
The whole incident took place at an apartment complex in West Hollywood just after 9pm on Monday evening. John Winker and had been spending time with some friends on a lower floor of the building on Palm Avenue, near Santa Monica Boulevard. That is when another neighbor in the complex intruded on the group. Alexander McDonald, 27, reportedly climbed over the balcony, entered the apartment and confronted the three friends, while allegedly wielding a butcher knife. Cops later described McDonald (inset above) as “paranoid” and “incoherent.”
Just around this time, a 911 call was made, presumably by a witness who claimed that a man was scaring building tenants with a ten-inch blade. When police arrived on the scene, they were given a description of McDonald, who similar to Winkler is thin and was wearing a black t-shirt. Cops banged on the door of the unit where McDonald was struggling with his three hostages. When the door opened, two men ran out towards police. The first man was bleeding heavily from his neck and a second man, Winkler, allegedly appeared to be closely chasing behind. Four shots were then deployed. The first man to exit the unit was shot in the leg, while Tosh.0 production assistant Winkler, who the police mistook for McDonald, was accidentally shot and killed from a fatal bullet wound in his chest.
Sounds of a struggle continued to emanate from inside the apartment. After the police rushed in, they found Alexander McDonald fighting with the third hostage, choking him and “tearing” at his face, authorities said. McDonald was restrained and arrested. He has since been charged with muder, attempted murder and torture. Currently he is being held on 4 million dollar bail. The man who had been stabbed in the neck and shot in the leg is reportedly in stable condition.
All police involved in the incident have been removed from duty, but are expected to return to work next week. L.A. County Sheriff John Scott said recently: “Taking the life of an innocent person is a police officer’s greatest nightmare,” Councilman Jeff Prang added: “This was already a tragic situation but this makes it all the more tragic,” Winkler’s aunt recently expressed how “excited” John had been with his new residence in Hollywood. Now, because of an unfortunate case of mistaken identity by the police, a Winkler, Tosh.0 production assistant has been accidentally and tragically killed. No statement has been released from Tosh.0 or it’s host, regarding the incident.
By Josh Taub