Gun not thoroughly checked before fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins on set of Alec Baldwin film Rust
A gun used on the set of the film Rust was not thoroughly checked before being given to actor Alec Baldwin, who fired a live lead bullet in an accidental fatal shooting, according to officials and a new court filing.
- Police say the gun was a .45 calibre Italian-made Pietta Long Colt revolver
- The assistant director told investigators he had failed to check all the rounds in the gun before handing it Alec Baldwin
- Authorities previously said Mr Baldwin was handed what he thought was a "cold", or safe, gun
Last week's incident in New Mexico claimed the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
New details emerged during a news conference by Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, and in an affidavit filed by the sheriff's department.
Sheriff Mendoza said the gun was a .45 calibre Italian-made Pietta Long Colt revolver.
The lead projectile was recovered from the shoulder of filmmaker Joel Souza, who was injured in the incident.
"We would consider it a live round — a bullet, live — because it did fire from the weapon and obviously caused the death of Ms Hutchins and injured Mr Souza," Sheriff Mendoza said.
Hannah Gutierrez, the film's armourer, who was in charge of weapons on the set, told investigators she had checked guns there but found no "hot rounds" — apparently meaning live ammunition — before the shooting, according to the affidavit.
Dave Halls, the film's assistant director, told investigators he "should have checked all" the rounds in the gun before handing it to Mr Baldwin but had not done so, according to the affidavit.
Authorities previously said Mr Baldwin was handed what he thought was a "cold", or safe, gun by Mr Halls, who took it from a cart used by Ms Gutierrez.
Ms Gutierrez said ammunition was not secured on the set during a lunch break before the shooting, the affidavit showed.
It quoted her as saying that firearms were secured inside a safe kept on a white truck during the break and no live ammunition was ever kept on a movie set.
"Only a few people" had access to the safe and knew the combination to open it, Ms Gutierrez said, according to the affidavit.
A judge approved a request by investigators to search the truck.
Asked about the use of real weapons on a movie set, Sheriff Mendoza said: "I think the industry has had a record recently of being safe.
"I think there was some complacency on this set," he added.
"And I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico."
When asked if Mr Baldwin would face potential criminal charges, district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said it was too early to comment.
"All options are on the table at this point. We cannot answer that question at this point," she said.
"It is a very complex case."
She said she would not comment on hypothetical scenarios, but said: "It will take many more facts, corroborated facts, before we get to that criminal negligence standard."
The sheriff said if their investigations found a crime had occurred and probable cause existed, "an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed".
Police said they suspected other live rounds were on the set.
They have so far recovered 500 rounds of ammunition, including blanks and dummy rounds.
Investigators said they would also be following up on reports that there were other incidents involving misfires with guns used on the set.
The sheriff encouraged anyone with knowledge of reports of target practice taking place on set to come forward.
"I think the facts are clear, the weapon was handed to Mr Baldwin. The weapon is functional and fired a live round, killing Ms Hutchins and injuring Mr Souza."
Before the incident, camera operators had walked off the set to protest against working conditions, according to the affidavit.
"Any time a firearm is around or about, safety is paramount," Sheriff Mendoza said.
Mr Baldwin, 63, serves as a co-producer of Rust, a Western film set in 1880s Kansas. Production on the Bonanza Creek Ranch, near Santa Fe, has been halted.
The film's producers have hired the law firm Jenner & Block to investigate the shooting.
In a letter sent to the cast and crew, the film's production team said the firm would "have full discretion about who to interview and any conclusions they draw".