The family of an innocent man who was mistakenly shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies is trying to make sense of his death, they said in a statement Friday.
Deputies on Monday were responding to a call of an assault with a deadly weapon and man with a knife in an apartment in the 900 block of Palm Avenue when two men came running toward them.
The deputies mistakenly thought one of the men was the victim and the other the suspect, officials said. They opened fire, shooting and killing John Winkler, 30.
Winkler’s uncle, Craig Dawson, said the Comedy Central staffer was a “kind, funny, smart young man.”
“We are grasping to understand why he was taken away from us in such a tragic way,” Dawson said. "Those who were blessed with the opportunity to know John knew him to be an incredibly giving young man, always ready to do anything for friends and family.”
Authorities said Winkler was one of three men who were held hostage inside the apartment at knifepoint. Alexander McDonald, 27, allegedly stabbed and fought the hostages until deputies arrived.
McDonald was charged with murder on Thursday.
Dawson said that Winkler put his own life at risk trying to help a friend in a dangerous situation.
"Moving forward, we seek to understand the reasons why the sheriff's deputies shot and killed John,” Dawson said. “We know that shooting and killing an innocent man must be a horrible burden for those deputies, and they are in our prayers as well, as they attempt to cope with the circumstances of his death.”
Comedy Central released a statement on Friday mourning the loss of Winkler.
“We only had the privilege of working with him for a short while and extend heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends during this tragic time,” Comedy Central said.
Family members told NBC4 that Winkler moved to Los Angeles about six months ago.