The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confessed to shooting an innocent man dead while he was trying to flee a hostage situation in West Hollywood.
John Winkler, a 30-year-old TV producer-aspirant, was mistakenly shot dead by the deputies as he tried to escape his assailant from a Palm Avenue apartment. The authorities said he was one of the three men who were held at a knifepoint and attacked by a 27-year-old assailant, Monday night.
The officials announced their arrival but did not get any response. One of the victims ran out of the apartment bleeding. "Simultaneously, Winkler ran out of the door, lunging at the back of the fleeing victim. Both ran directly at the deputies," the sheriff's department said in statement, reports The Los Angeles Times.
The officials were told that the assailant was a white man in a black t-shirt. Winkler fit the description making deputies believe that he was the attacker. He was shot thrice in the chest and the other victim was shot in his leg. Winkler was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. The other victim had a stab wound in the neck and was in the stable condition.
The deputies heard commotion in the apartment and found the assailant Alexander McDonald was choking another victim and "tearing at his face," officials said. McDonald was taken into custody and charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and one count of torture.
Interim Sheriff John Scott called the accidental shooting of Winkler "very tragic."
The TV producer aspirant in fact had heard the screams from the apartment and went inside to help his friends. The KTLA-TV stated that McDonald was a friend of Winkler and held two other men along with Winkler hostage and attacked them.
Winkler's family said he relocated to Los Angeles 6 months ago for starting a career in the entertainment industry. He had also worked as a temporary production assistant on Comedy Central's 'Tosh.0.'
"It's just a really sad story," Devin Richardson told the Times "He basically went to help some neighbors and ends up getting shot."
So far, no charges against the deputies were announced.