By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
Los Angeles Sheriff Homicide investigators have learned that a resident of the apartment at 939 Palm held his roommate and two guests hostage in the run-up to the deputy involved shooting on Monday night and that the man shot and killed by a deputy in the melee on Palm Ave. was one of those hostages trying to make his escape.
Sheriffs say that Alexander McDonald, age 27, allegedly held 30-year-old John Winkler and two other men captive inside the apartment at knifepoint. In a rage, the suspect began stabbing the men and fighting with them as the deputies arrived.
One of the victims was a roommate of the suspect; Mr. Winkler and the other victim were visiting at the time of the incident, although one news source says Mr. Winkler went into the apartment to calm things.
West Hollywood deputies explained today that they responded to a call of an “assault with a deadly weapon, man with a knife” in an apartment at 939 Palm Ave. Upon their arriving, bystanders directed them to an apartment where a suspect with the knife was said to be.
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.
According to the investigating detective, Lt. Dave Coleman, “The field sergeant quickly assembled an entry team, along with deputies armed with less lethal weapons. The team staged at the front door of the apartment and announced themselves, but obtained no response. As deputies continued attempts to contact the people in the apartment, the apartment door suddenly opened and a male victim came rushing out.”
That man was covered in blood and still bleeding profusely from the neck, according to homicide detectives, followed by Mr. Winkler, who jumped onto the back of the departing man. Both men ran down the corridor directly at the deputies; because Mr. Winkler’s appearance matched that of the suspect and sensing imminent danger, three deputies fired their guns, hitting both Mr. Winkler and the other victim.
Mr. Winkler died later at the hospital; the other victim’s gunshot and knife wounds were non-life threatening.
Mr. Winkler had moved to West Hollywood six months ago to pursue a career in television. He had been recently hire as a production assistant for “Tosh.0”
It was in the immediate aftermath that deputies entered the apartment to find two men fighting, with Alexander McDonald, age 27, getting the upper hand and choking the remaining victim, as well as tearing at his face.
The press release says, “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 second victim (from the doorway) was transported to a local hospital and treated for stab wounds to the neck and a gunshot wound to the leg. He is in stable condition.
The third victim was transported to a local hospital and treated for stab wounds to the legs, arms and chest and was released.
Mr. McDonald was transported to an area hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and released. He is currently in custody.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, has filed the following charges against Suspect McDonald; one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and one count of torture.
His bail has been increased from two million dollars to four million dollars.
The incident, coming so closely on the heels of the murder/suicide in the same building eight days before, has residents rattled and some talking about moving.
The City of West Hollywood has made counselling available to those traumatized by the experience.