On Thursday of last week, 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed by actor Alec Baldwin after he fired a prop gun on the New Mexico set of the film Rust. Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins, was also wounded but has since recovered.
Information about the incident has been slowly trickling out, but some details are fuzzy and others are unverified. It’s still unclear how the gun misfired or why it had potentially damaging projectiles in it.
On Wednesday, authorities confirmed the gun in question — a 1873 replica F V Pietta long Colt .45 revolver — contained multiple rounds of ammunition. Police believe these were also fired by Baldwin, though it’s unclear when. Police would not elaborate on a potential timeline for the incident overall.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said police also recovered the live “lead projectile” — or bullet — from Souza’s shoulder, which will be sent along with approximately 600 pieces of evidence to the FBI for analysis.
“We suspect that there were other live rounds, but that’s up to the testing. But right now, we’re going to determine how those got there, why they were there because they shouldn’t have been,” Mendoza told reporters during a joint news conference on Wednesday.
He added that 500 rounds of ammunition — a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and live rounds — were found while searching the set of Rust.
It is unclear if Baldwin will face charges for the shooting. There was no footage of the incident taken on the film set, making it difficult to get definitive evidence of what happened, Mendoza added.
He noted there were two other guns on-set in close proximity to the one used by Baldwin. One, Mendoza said was a single action Army .45 revolver that “may not be functioning,” while the other was a plastic non-functioning revolver.
“We’ll send the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin to the crime lab and do a functionality test,” Mendoza said.
Santa Fe district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who was also present at the conference, said that it was too soon to tell whether anyone could be charged with criminal negligence.
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“It will take many more facts, corroborated facts, before we can get to that criminal negligence standard,” she said.
According to a copy of the search warrant obtained by Global News, Souza was looking at a camera lens Hutchins was holding during a film rehearsal taking place inside of a church at the Bonanza Creek Ranch when the shooting took place, while Baldwin sat on a wooden pew facing the camera crew.
Souza told investigators the rehearsed scene involved Baldwin cross-drawing his weapon and pointing it towards the camera lens, the warrant read.
Court records showed the gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or armourer, had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed.
Assistant director Dave Halls then allegedly grabbed a gun off a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating that the weapon was safe by yelling “cold gun,” court papers said. But it was loaded with live rounds, according to the records. Both the armourer and Halls have provided statements to the police.
Halls told investigators that he hadn’t thoroughly checked the revolver to ensure that each round contained dummy casings, the warrant read, adding that Halls said that the incident was not a deliberate act.
The search warrant placed the shooting sometime after 12:30 p.m, after the crew had returned from lunch. Hutchins was shot in the chest, the warrant read.
“Obviously I think the industry has had a record recently of being safe. I think there was some complacency on this set, and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico,” said Mendoza.
Baldwin, 63, who’s said to be incredibly distraught by the incident, described the killing as a “tragic accident.”
“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation,” Baldwin tweeted on Friday. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
It remains an active, open investigation.
— With files from The Associated Press