‘Rust’ movie-set shooting: Authorities present findings

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SANTA FE, N.M. (NewsNation Now) — Investigators discussed their initial findings Wednesday in the fatal movie-set shooting in which movie star and producer Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun, killing a cinematographer and wounding the director.

The news conference by Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies was the first detailed public comments by investigators about the killing of 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal at a New Mexico ranch.

Mendoza said it’s too early to comment on possible charges but confirmed that Alec Baldwin fired the weapon. 

“If the facts in evidence and law support charges, then I will initiate prosecution at that time. I’m a prosecutor that was elected in part because I do not make rash decisions and I do not rush to judgment,” Carmack-Altwies said.

Three firearms, approximately 500 rounds of ammunition and several pieces of clothing have been seized from the set, Mendoza said.

“We suspect there were other live rounds that were found on set,” Mendoza said. “This investigation is active, so I won’t comment on how they got there, but we suspect that they are there. That will be determined when testing is done by the crime lab in reference to whether or not they are officially live rounds or not.”

Hutchins was shot and killed last week on the New Mexico movie set after an assistant director allegedly unwittingly handed movie star Alec Baldwin a loaded weapon and told him it was safe to use.

According to court records, assistant director Dave Halls yelled, “cold gun,” assuring Baldwin it was safe to use because it didn’t have live ammo.

The gun was loaded with live rounds. When Baldwin pulled the trigger, he killed Hutchins. Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, was wounded, the records said.

Criminal defense attorney Rachel Fiset joined NewsNation Prime to discuss what possible charges could be filed.

The gun was one of three that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, had set on a cart outside the wooden structure where a scene was being acted, according to the records.

The sequence of events has baffled Hollywood professionals and prompted calls to better regulate firearms on sets or even ban them in the age of seamless computer-generated imagery.

Baldwin, 63, who is known for his roles in “30 Rock,” “The Departed” and “The Hunt for Red October” along with his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” has described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press prior to the news conference that the investigation is still in its early stages — far from any decisions about whether or not to file criminal charges.

She said those involved in the production were cooperating with law enforcement and that prosecutors won’t fully review evidence until the completion of an initial investigation by the Sheriff’s Office.

The gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or “armorer,” had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.

  • Alec Baldwin

Authorities have seized three black revolvers, gun belts with holsters, ammunition boxes, a fanny pack with ammunition, several spent casings and articles of clothing and swabs of what were believed to be blood.

The production of “Rust” has been beset by workplace disputes from the start in early October. Hours before the shooting, several camera crew members walked off the set amid discord over working conditions, including safety procedures.

The film’s chief electrician Serge Svetnoy blamed producers for Hutchins’ death, saying he faulted “negligence and unprofessionalism” among those handling weapons on the set.

“The negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it,” Svetnoy said in part. “And the DEATH OF THE HUMAN IS THE RESULT!”

Svetnoy said he was standing next to Hutchins when the shooting happened and that she died in his arms.

Baldwin, in his role as actor, appeared unlikely to be held criminally or civilly liable for the tragedy. As a producer, however, he is among a long list of associates on the film who could face some sort of liability.

“Ultimately, the question is going to be what Alec Baldwin knew about the people he was hiring,” defense attorney Cynthia Armijo said on NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live.”

Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is cooperating with Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and conducting its own internal review of procedures with the production shut down.

You can watch the full news conference from the Santa Fe authorities in the player below.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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