New information about the accidental shooting on the set of Rust continues to come to light.
On Oct. 21, during a rehearsal for the Western film at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., main cast member and co-producer Alec Baldwin discharged a gun used as a prop that he believed did not contain live ammunition. However, once he fired, a bullet hit cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest; she later died of her wound.
Director Joel Souza was also injured in the shoulder and was treated at a hospital and later released. Authorities believe he was hit by the same lead-based projectile, which they recovered.
Police continue to investigate the fatal shooting, which Baldwin has called a "tragic accident," and say they plan to interview more people. In addition, the FBI is analyzing the evidence collected at the scene. No charges have been filed, although authorities say they have not ruled out the possibility. Here is what we know so far:
Two People in Addition to Alec Baldwin Handled the Gun:
At a news conference on Wednesday, Oct. 27, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said that they "identified two other people that handled and/or inspected the loaded firearm prior to Baldwin firing the weapon"—armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and Assistant Director David Halls. The sheriff said, "All three individuals have been cooperative in the investigation and have provided statements."
The "Prop-Gun" Was a Real Gun:
At Wednesday's news conference, Sheriff Mendoza said the firearm was a F.LLI Pietta Long Colt .45-caliber revolver, adding, "There was other ammunition in the gun that we believe was fired by Mr. Baldwin."
"It was a legit gun," Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told The New York Times on Tuesday, Oct. 26. "It was an antique-era appropriate gun."
In recent court documents, the item Baldwin fired was referred to as a "prop-gun."
Gun expert Steve Wolf, president of Wolf Stuntworks, spoke on MSNBC on Oct. 25 to explain typical procedures on film sets, saying, "We don't use real guns, as I believe was used. We use prop guns."
He held up "a prop Western gun as would be appropriate in use in filming a Western," and stated, "If I were to attempt to load live ammunition into a prop gun… the cylinder can't be closed, the gun can't be fired. So, prop guns actually don't take live bullet ammunition. They do take blanks."
Evidence Sent to FBI Crime Lab
"We believe we have in our possession the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin," the sheriff said the news conference. "This is the firearm we believe discharged the bullet. We also believe that we have the spent shell casing from the bullet that was fired from the gun. The actual lead projectile that was fired has been recovered from the shoulder of Mr. Souza. We regard this specific spent casing and recovered projectile to be the live round that was fired from the revolver by Mr. Baldwin."
Sheriff Mendoza said evidence collected at the scene was sent to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va. for analysis and that the results, which are pending, will reveal the weight of the projectile that was recovered from Souza's shoulder and "whether or not it is was fired from that actual firearm" handled by Baldwin.
More Than One Gun Used, Props Seized
In addition to the firearm used by Baldwin, authorities also found two other guns: a Colt Single Action Army .45 revolver with a modified cylinder which "may not be functioning," as well as a "plastic, non-functioning revolver," police said.
500 Rounds of Ammunition Found
Also sent to the lab: About 500 rounds of ammunition found on the scene, which the sheriff said was a "mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting [are] live rounds."
The AD Indicated Baldwin Had a "Cold Gun"
The Santa Fe Sheriff's Office executed two search warrants on the set of Rust. In one affidavit, a detective stated that during filming, Assistant Director Halls "grabbed one of three 'prop-guns' that was set-up by the Armorer, which was on a cart." Halls allegedly handed the "prop-gun to Baldwin and as he did so, he "yelled 'Cold Gun,' indicating the prop-gun did not have any live rounds," the affidavit says.
The detective said that Baldwin then fired, striking Hutchins and Souza, who was behind her. Halls "did not know live rounds were in the prop-gun," when he gave it to Baldwin, the affidavit states.
In another search warrant affidavit, another detective stated that "Joel [Souza] said the rehearsal entailed actor Alec Baldwin cross drawing his weapon," meaning to draw it across his body, "and pointing the revolver towards the camera lens. According to Joel [Souza], it was his belief the gun being used in the rehearsal was safe and used the term 'cold gun' when explaining the firearm safety announcements." Souza told police that the cast and crew took a lunch break and that after they resumed rehearsal, he was unsure if the firearm used by Baldwin had been checked again for safety.
According to the affidavit, "Joel stated they had Alec sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw. Joel said he was looking over the shoulder of [Hutchins], when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop."
Cameraman Reid Russell told police that after the firearm was discharged, "he remembered Joel having blood on his person, and [Hutchins] speaking and saying she couldn't feel her legs. Reid stated once [Hutchins] was on the ground, medics began to tend to her injury," according to a warrant obtained by E! News on Oct. 25.
Armorer Denied Live Ammo on Set
According to the other search warrant affidavit, Gutierrez-Reed told police she'd "checked the 'dummies' and ensured they were not 'hot' rounds."
"During the course of filming, Hannah advised she handed the gun to Alec Baldwin a couple times, and also handed it to David Halls," the document said. "When...asked about live ammo on set, Hannah responded no live ammo is ever kept on set."
In a statement on Oct. 29, Gutierrez-Reed's lawyers said, "Safety is Hannah's number one priority on set. Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from."
As for Halls, the police search warrant affidavit also stated that when the assistant director was asked about gun safety protocols on the set, he told police, "I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there's no live fire, she [Gutierrez-Reed] opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set." He also said that he "could only remember seeing three rounds" when the armorer showed him the firearm before continuing rehearsal.
"He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn't," the affidavit said, "and couldn't recall if she spun the drum."
The filing also stated, "David [Halls] advised the incident was not a deliberate act."
Past Safety Concerns
The incident took place amid reported safety concerns on set. Sources familiar with the situation told NBC News that several crew members had walked off the set just hours before the shooting due to those concerns. NBC News also quoted its sources that as saying that the gun that killed Hutchins had misfired prior to the fatal shooting. According to the outlet, investigators sought to question three workers who were tasked with ensuring Baldwin's gun was loaded with blanks.
The Los Angeles Times, citing its own sources, previously reported that there were two misfires of a prop gun days before the shooting, and that six hours before the fatal incident, union camera operators and their assistants walked off the job to protest working conditions.
Production company Rust Movie Productions, LLC has not commented about the alleged walkout. In a statement to E! News, the group said it was "not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set." However, the company said it will conduct "an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down."
"The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company," the statement read. "We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time."
No Charges Filed
The sheriff said the items recovered from the scene will be turned over to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va., for analysis. Meanwhile, police will continue their investigation of the shooting.
"If the sheriff's office determines during our investigation a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed," he said. "Otherwise, we will complete our investigation and forward the full investigation and evidence to the district attorney for review."
District attorney Carmack-Altwies said at the news conference, "If the facts and evidence and law support charges, then I will initiate prosecution at that time."
When asked if Baldwin faces potential criminal charges, she said, "All options are on the table, at this point."
"We cannot answer that question yet until we complete a more thorough investigation," she added. "No one has been ruled out at this point."
The sheriff said "He's obviously the person that fired the weapon. So we're going to continue interviewing and getting the facts of his statements and the evidence and the case and possible witnesses or anybody that has any information. So right now, he is an active part of this investigation. Everybody is cooperating with statements and interviews."
(This story was originally posted on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021 at 11:35 a.m. PT)
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