WEST HOLLYWOOD—Alexander Tor McDonald, 31, of West Hollywood was sentenced on Friday, October 6. 2017 to 14 years in state prison for the stabbing of two people inside an apartment complex in April 2014. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office revealed that McDonald pleaded no contest on October 2 to two counts of attempted murder and admitted to a great bodily injury allegation.
On April 7, 2014, the suspect held three men at knifepoint inside an apartment on the 900 block of Palm Avenue, where sheriff’s deputies responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call involving a man with a knife around 9:30 p.m. It was there that deputies were informed that there were two men living in the residence to which they were responding, in addition to being told that the suspect was a thin white male wearing a black shirt. An entry team was assembled with “less than lethal weapons” and the deputies moved into the complex. When sheriff’s arrived on the scene, one man ran out with a wound to his neck followed by a second victim, the prosecutor noted.
Deputies fired their weapons believing the second victim was the attacker, injuring the man that was bleeding and fatally shooting, John Winkler, 30 a TV production assistant who recently moved to Southern California from Seattle. He was struck once in the chest. Winkler was a temporary production assistant on the Comedy Central Show, “Tosh.0” Canyon News reached out to Comedy Central, who replied with a statement regarding the loss of the West Hollywood resident.
“Comedy Central and ‘Tosh.0’ extend their deepest condolences to the family of John Winkler,” the statement said. “We only had the privilege of working with him for a short while and extend heartfelt sympathy to his friends and family during this tragic time.”
A $5 million settlement was approved by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in August 2015. In a statement issued the night of Winkler’s death, authorities said, “The apartment door suddenly opened and a male victim came rushing out. He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck. Simultaneously, Winkler ran out of the door, lunging at the back of the fleeing victim. Both ran directly at the deputies.”
The unidentified “male victim” at the time turned out to be Liam Mulligan, a friend of Winkler’s and McDonald’s roommate. Officials said Winkler fit the general description of the suspect – a young white male wearing a black shirt – and when he fled the apartment alongside Mulligan, deputies believed Winkler to be the assailant. Winkler later died at a local hospital from injuries he sustained. Mulligan was stabbed in the neck by McDonald and then shot in the leg by deputies during the escape. He has also filed a claim for a $25 million payment.
Despite the settlement agreed upon in Winkler’s death, his mother, Lisa Ostegren, was not convinced on the story the deputies gave regarding her son.
“To even the most jaded bystander, it is clear that the Sheriff’s deputy who mistakenly shot and killed my son was either horribly trained, or simply ignored the established procedures,” Ostegren said in a statement released in August 2015, after the settlement was approved. “I won’t allow them to sweep this under the rug by writing a check; they have to stand and deliver.”
According to Sim Osborn, the family attorney, Winkler’s family made sure the settlement required a plan to be developed that outlines the training and procedures by the Sheriff’s department in similar hostage situations. The goal moving forward is to ensure this type of mistake doesn’t happen again.
“It is a tragedy when any parent loses a child, but learning that John was killed by those sworn to protect him is almost too much to comprehend,” said Ostegren in the statement. “There hasn’t been a single day in which John’s death doesn’t bring me to tears, and I can’t image a day in which I will stop grieving over him.”
McDonald trial had been delayed several times of the course of the case. The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, West Hollywood Station.