The narcotics team at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station is trying to determine whether cocaine laced with a particularly dangerous drug known as bath salts might be present in WeHo.
Lt. David Coleman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau said a toxicology examination of Alexander McDonald, arrested April 7 in a knife attack on three other men in his apartment at 939 Palm Ave., would determine whether McDonald had ingested such a drug.
When deputies arrived at McDonald’s apartment they encountered two men, one with his neck cut and bleeding profusely, running out the door. Deputies opened fire, killing one of the men, who matched a description of McDonald, and wounding the other. That man was John Winkler, 30, who also recently had moved to WeHo to work as a production assistant on “Tosh.O,” a television show. Inside the apartment the deputies found McDonald choking another man and tearing at his face. At some point earlier McDonald and the other men had been “hanging out” at his apartment, watching television. The men, one of whom was McDonald’s roommate, told deputies that McDonald became violent suddenly, holding them hostage at knife point. McDonald was charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of torture in the incident. He is being held in lieu of $4 million bail.
Coleman said there is no evidence as yet that bath salts were involved, but that the presence of bath salts could explain McDonald’s attack. McDonald, 27, moved to Los Angeles last year from Washington State. He is design director for a new mobile app called Pogoseat. McDonald is said by his friends to never before have exhibited such erratic behavior. A friend of McDonald’s has told WEHOville that McDonald’s friends believed that cocaine with bath salts had been used by McDonald that day but couldn’t offer proof of that.
Coleman said results of a toxicology report won’t be available for several weeks. Meanwhile, he said: “We have our narcotics team base in West Hollywood looking for anything strange that might be floating around out there.”
Coleman noted that there has been a long history of cocaine being mixed by dealers with more dangerous drugs, which purchasers of the drug aren’t aware of. Bath salts is a term used to describe drugs containing artificial chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant. A federal government website with information about drug abuse by teenagers says “the synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce feelings of joy and increased sociability and sex drive. But some people who abuse bath salts experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations; some even lose contact with reality and act violently. Deaths have been reported in several cases.”
Perhaps the most widely publicized incident of an attack allegedly cause by bath salts took place in Miami in May 2012. That involved a man eating another man’s face who police shot and killed when they couldn’t get him to stop. A forensic exam later determined that only marijuana was in the attacker’s system. However a YouTube video of an ABC News report presents alarming images of people on bath salts who acted erratically and violently.