Man Shot by Deputy at 939 Palm Was a Victim, Not the Assailant

Alexander T. McDonald
Alexander T. McDonald

The young man killed by gunfire from L. A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies Monday at 939 Palm Ave. apparently was a victim and not the instigator of the knife attack the deputies were called to investigate.

In a press release today, the Sheriff’s Department identified the young man as John Winkler, 30. Winkler and two other men were being held hostage in the apartment, the department said, by its tenant, Alexander McDonald, who was threatening them with a knife.

“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,” the Sheriff’s Department said. “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. He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck. Simultaneously, victim Winkler ran out of the door, lunging at the back of the fleeing victim. Both ran directly at the deputies. Winkler was similar to the description of the suspect and was wearing a black shirt. Believing Winkler was the assailant and the assault was ongoing and he would attack the entry team, three deputies fired their duty weapons at him. Victim Winkler was struck by the gunfire and fell to the floor, and the male victim also collapsed; struck once by the gunfire.”

John Winker
John Winkler

When they entered the apartment, the deputies found McDonald fighting with another man, “choking and tearing at his face. 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.”

According to the press release, McDonald went into a rage, holding the three men at knifepoint and began to stab them. One of the victims was MacDonald’s roommate, who hasn’t been identified. Winkler and the other victim, who also hasn’t been officially identified, were visiting the second-floor apartment

Winkler and the victim who was shot were taken to the hospital, where Winkler later died from a single gunshot wound. The second victim was treated for stab wounds and a gunshot wound to the leg and released. The other man inside the apartment was also taken to a hospital where he was treated for stab wounds to the legs, arms and chest and then released.

McDonald, 27, was treated for minor injuries and is currently in custody. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has charged him with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of torture. His bail is set at $4 million. McDonald has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is due back in court May 8

Winkler had moved to Los Angeles only a few months ago from Seattle and was employed as a production assistant on thetelevision comedy “Tosh.0.”

The gunfire and police cars startled nearby residents, who only two weeks ago had been stunned by thestabbing death in the same building of Kurland Ma, 34, a doctor who had recently moved to West Hollywood. His boyfriend, Andres Davids, 36, was charged with his murder. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail..

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MarcD
MarcD
6 years ago

It’s interesting to note. The cops shot and killed Winkler because he was ‘acting’ aggressive towards them and because they thought the attack was on going. Afterwards, they go into the apartment and they see the actual attack going on with a knife nearby! But the cops didn’t shoot McDonald. Why? Because he wasn’t acting aggressive towards them which clearly shows that was their only concern.
They got it wrong and backwards. They should have subdued Winkler and shot McDonald.

Cortney S
Cortney S
6 years ago

I was friends with John in high school and so this hits pretty hard. He was always making jokes and people laugh. He was a great guy who was loyal to his friends. This is a tragic loss that should NOT EVER happened. There are no excuses for this. I hope there will be an investigation into the officer and police department. I understand that law enforcement has a job to do but this was too far.

Tyson
Tyson
6 years ago

I certainly hope that the policeman who fired gets put in jail. This whole ” Winkler was lunging at him” is just bs.
Additionally they managed to shoot the guy they thought was a victim too???
Unless they saw a knife they should have tried to subdue the guy.
And finally why the hell does it matter that the police were only told there were 2 people. Its not like every phonecall they recieve is 100% accurate. If you cant hire a cop who is intelligent enough to make a decision in the moment then dont hire

LB2
LB2
6 years ago

A young innocent man died by the actions set into motion by A. MacDonald. The police are not at fault. Without A. MacDonald putting into motion this tragic series of event none of this would have happened.

Joseph #1
Joseph #1
6 years ago
Reply to  LB2

A) MacDonald should be held responsible – yes his actions put into motion what happened, but we do not have all the facts in this case. Some things in the information that was released do not make sense. There are contradictions from many witnesses and what the Sheriff’s department released. Many unfortunate things are set in motion daily – but at the end of the day we have a responsibility for our our actions and reactions to that. The WeHo Sheriffs reactions cost lives period. They have done this on many ocassions and keep repeating these mistakes with a “We… Read more »

A
A
6 years ago

2 homicides in the same building directly in the heart of West Hollywood- (West Hollywood being a symbol for American peace, acceptance and shared prosperity regardless of race, differences in beliefs, sexual orientation, or even lifestyle) All of this happening as the US-Saudi straining relations play out what to do about Asserisi’s plea for US Protection living in, none-other, Weho. This isn’t just a sadly historic set of events marking potential issues of police misuse of authority resulting in true degradation to the civil and societal structure that has evolved here, this on every scale shows human and social flaws… Read more »

wehoparty
6 years ago

I think the cop who shot the innocent unarmed victim should be charged with manslaughter. If I was being held captive and got a chance to get away I would lunge out the front door too. Aren’t cops NOT suppose to shoot and kill unarmed people? McDonald isn’t responsible for the Murder but his actions instigated it and he should be held accountable as well as the trigger happy cop.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
6 years ago

Cino – So it’s clear, I too favor a detailed city overview of this incident, a strong response and an airing of the issues you and others have raised. We don’t disagree about that. I know from my own equally valid personal experience with the sheriff’s department that I find them, again based on what I’ve seen, as superior to those in LA proper as well as two other major cities in which I’ve lived. I also note the relatively low crime rate in this city, pretty amazing despite our basically being in the center of a major city. We… Read more »

Cino
Cino
6 years ago

Let me say this…most of the people posting on here DO NOT know each other, but there is a common theme running through this thread…VIOLENT, AGGRESSIVE Sheriff behavior. I know at least 4 people who have had the Sheriff do the same thing to them that was done to previous poster Joseph. And where are the people we voted in to run this city? Cuddled up with the thugs in uniform. A lot of people have been making serious accusations against these thugs for a long time…nothing done. Now we have a young man murdered in his prime…in the dirty… Read more »

Professor Shivers
Professor Shivers
6 years ago

I haven’t trusted the cops ANYWHERE in this city or county for quite a long time. There has been NO reform. They’ve been out of control for decades–look what they did to their own Chris Dorner when he cracked under their corruption, and how they over-reacted by shooting those two female newspaper deliverers. Same old, same old. More killings will follow . . . people are gonna NOT stand for this. Those cops returning to duty Monday? NEVER!!! Thjey need to be locked up and charged with murder and ARE guilty. Case closed.

jimmypalmieri
6 years ago

This is one of the most tragic stories I have heard since my arriving in WEHO in ’94. There is just so much horror in this story. It will take a long time and deep investigation to find out what happened…..if that is ever even going to be possible. What an absolute heartbreak that a victim was killed. I do not think the sheriffs went there with any intention other than to help. Seeing a bloody man charging and then another coming after him had to be terrifying for all involved. Everyone loses in this story. This is not the… Read more »

Sean
Sean
6 years ago

Just like all other cop shooting, nothin will be done about the police just shooting at will. This country has lost more people to police shootings the we have lost military in the war since 9/11. It’s sad to think your safer over there then some cop coming over and killing you or your family.

Scott
Scott
6 years ago

will someone please hold these cops accountable??!! how can something like this happen and officers (people), human beings like the rest of us, but they have made a truly tragic error and cost a human life, not be held accountable to the full extent of the law? are they above the law? NO! is that what think??!! it is a shocking and horrific reality to have individuals in our police force who can make such a common sense god-awful error and get paid leave, and be considered fit for duty once more. put that officer in jail!! JUSTICE, WHERE IS… Read more »