Authorities to present fatal shooting results on film set
SANTA FE, New Mexico – Law enforcement authorities are expected to discuss early findings regarding a fatal shootout on set with a propeller pistol unloaded by actor Alec Baldwin that left one filmmaker dead and the director injured.
Scheduled for Wednesday, the press conference by Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies promises investigators’ first detailed public comments on the murder of Halyna Hutchins, 42, during a rehearsal on the plateau at a ranch outside Santa Fe.
The October 21 sequence of events baffled Hollywood professionals and sparked calls to better regulate guns on film sets or even ban them in the age of seamless computer-generated imagery.
Court records indicate that a deputy warden, Dave Halls, grabbed the gun from a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating the gun was safe and shouting “cold gun”. But it was loaded with live ammunition, according to a written affidavit from a detective.
Baldwin, 63, known for his roles in “30 Rock,” “The Departed” and “The Hunt for Red October” as well as former President Donald Trump’s impression on “Saturday Night Live,” described the murder like a “tragic accident.
Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press ahead of the press conference that the investigation was still in its infancy – long before decisions were made on whether to lay criminal charges.
She said those involved in the production were cooperating with law enforcement and prosecutors would not fully examine the evidence until an initial investigation by the sheriff’s office was completed.
The weapon Baldwin used was one of three that a gun specialist, or “gunsmith,” had placed on a cart outside the building where a scene was rehearsed, according to court records.
Director Joel Souza, who stood behind Hutchins and was injured, told investigators there should never be live bullets present near the scene.
Authorities seized three black revolvers, gun belts with holsters, boxes of ammunition, a fanny pack with ammunition, several casings and worn clothing and swabs of what was believed to be blood.
The production of “Rust” has been beset by labor disputes since the beginning of October. Hours before filming, several members of the film crew left the set amid disagreement over working conditions, including safety procedures.
Baldwin in his role as an actor seemed unlikely to be held criminally or civilly responsible for the tragedy. As a producer, however, he’s one of a long list of film associates who might face some sort of liability.
Concerns have been expressed about Halls’ safety record by colleagues on two previous productions. Halls did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.
Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is cooperating with Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and is conducting its own internal review of the proceedings with the production shut down.
This version corrects the date of the fatal shooting to October 21.
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