SEATTLE -

Friends and relatives are mourning an aspiring television producer from Washington state mistakenly shot to death this week by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies.

Authorities in Los Angeles said Thursday that 30-year-old John Winkler was a hostage who was fleeing from a knife-wielding attacker at a West Hollywood apartment.

Friends say Winkler moved to California six months ago.

Seattle Film Institute communications director Chris Blanchett tells The Seattle Times that Winkler attended the institute, where he was a good student and "a genuinely nice guy."

A friend named Devin Richardson told the Los Angeles Times that Winkler attended high school in Puyallup, Wash.

Anne-Marie Van Wart, of Tacoma, told the Los Angeles newspaper her nephew was thrilled to be in Hollywood.

Trevor Jess tells KING-TV in Seattle that his friend was "just starting out, ready to climb the ladder and that's the thing that breaks my heart."