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LA Deputies shoot hostages: Fatal error made by LA deputies in hostage situation

LA deputies accidentally shoot hostage, not hostage-taker.
LA deputies accidentally shoot hostage, not hostage-taker.
Commons Wikimedia

LA deputies shoot at an unarmed man when they thought he was the one holding hostages inside a West Hollywood apartment building. The man who ran out of the building was bloody and bolted off with someone as if he was "escaping." While that was indeed the case, but he wasn't the one threatening people with a 10-inch butcher knife. He was one of the hostages.

John Winkler, 30, was pronounced dead at the hospital Monday night. He was an aspiring TV producer, ABC News reports April 11. On Thursday, Interim Los Angeles County Sheriff John Scott said killing an innocent person is a "police officer's worst nightmare."

LA deputies felt they had to shoot because they thought the hostage-taker was running off with one of the hostages inside. The whole department mourned Winkler's death, Scott said.

Alexander McDonald was the man who had the knife threatening in an apartment on Palm Avenue. He was a resident in the same building as Winkler. When Winkler was "hanging out" with some of his neighbors that lived below him, McDonald jumped over the balcony wielding a knife.

McDonald was "in an incoherent state of mind, seemed very paranoid, which was uncharacteristic." He took Winkler and another man hostage before he began stabbing them. A motive behind McDonald's outburst is unknown at this point.

So, how did it come about that LA deputies accidentally shot one of the hostages? When deputies announced themselves at the apartment door where the stabbing was going on, Winkler found an opportunity to escape.

Scott said because Winkler was fleeing in such a way that he seemed under "continuous attack" and was bloody, three deputies shot at him. The man he was with was shot in the leg. He was rushed to the hospital and later said to be in stable condition. A third man in the incident was treated for stab wounds and released from the hospital.

McDonald, 27, suffered only minor injuries. He's being charged with torture, murder and two counts of attempted murder.