Alec Baldwin Prop Gun Shooting: What the Warrant Reveals

Actor Alec Baldwin was practicing removing a revolver from its holster and aiming it at the camera during rehearsals for the film “Rust” when director Joel Souza heard “what sounded like a whip and then a loud crack,” according to a search warrant who looked grim with new details about the final minutes of camerawoman Halyna Hutchins’ life.

In the newly published document received by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday evening, Souza said the gun was described to him as a “cold gun,” meaning it had no sharp rounds. But the gun fired and hit Hutchins in her chest and Souza in his right shoulder, according to an affidavit from the Santa Fe County, NM sheriff’s affidavit that was used to obtain a search warrant. Hutchins was pronounced dead in an Albuquerque hospital.

Souza’s testimony to the detective opened up a new window into Thursday’s set of filming, which rocked Hollywood and called for safer working conditions on the sets.

Filming took place after six members of the film crew left the set after complaining to the production company about pay and accommodation, cinematographer Reid Russell told Det. Joel Cano. Russell and Souza’s statements to the detective offered the most detailed chronology of the course of the tragedy yet.

The day started late because production had hired a replacement camera team and only worked with one camera, Souza told the detective.

Aside from Baldwin, Souza said that two people handled the gun for the crime scene: the gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed and then the assistant director Dave Halls, who handed the gun over to Baldwin, the affidavit reads.

Due to COVID-19 security protocols, Gutierrez Reed placed three prop rifles on a cart in front of the church set at Bonanza Creek Ranch, the focus of the search warrant. Halls did not know that there were sharp rounds in the gun he gave Baldwin, and Halls yelled “cold gun” on the affidavit.

Souza told the detective that the cast and crew had prepared for the scene before lunch, but then took a meal break outside of the rehearsal area around 12:30 p.m. When they returned, Souza said he wasn’t sure the gun had been checked again. He also raised the possibility that the cast or crew could bring live ammunition and live cartridges onto the set, which could contain potentially dangerous blanks.

“Joel said, as far as he knows, no one is checked for live ammunition before or after filming,” the affidavit read. “The only thing that is checked is the firearms to avoid having live ammunition in them. Joel said there should never be live rounds, either near or near the scene.

When they returned from lunch, a creeping shadow caused the camera to move to a different angle, Russell told the detective. When Baldwin explained how to draw his gun and where his arm would be positioned, it was discharged, Russell said.

Souza said he was looking over the shoulder of Hutchins when the gun fired. Hutchins grabbed her in the middle, stumbled backwards and was brought to the ground, Souza told the detective.

Russell remembered hearing a loud bang, seeing a bloody souza, and telling Hutchins she couldn’t feel her legs, the affidavit said.

Crew members called 911 and asked for help. Script supervisor Mamie Mitchell expressed frustration that an assistant director yelled at her over lunch asking for revisions, according to the audio of a 911 call received by the Los Angeles Times.

“Have to check the guns,” Mitchell said on 911 call. “He’s responsible for what happens on the set.”

Mitchell told the 911 operator that they couldn’t tell if the gun was loaded with a real bullet.

Halls, the first assistant director, did not respond to the Times’ request for comment on Saturday.

Santa Fe County authorities are still trying to find out what type of projectile killed Hutchins, Juan Ríos, spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday. “Hopefully ballistics and the forensics involved in ballistics will help us find that out.”

The department’s investigation will not be limited to the death and the events immediately preceding it, Ríos said.

“The sheriff’s office is investigating this case on a much larger scale than just the shooting on the set and the loss of life,” said Ríos. “Investigators are working with the Sheriff’s Office to investigate anything that should be followed, from security standards down.”

The search warrant allowed the seizure of all firearms, firearm components, used or unused ammunition (“be it live ammunition or propeller ammunition”), computer hardware and all cameras and film or memory cards. The sheriff’s office said it took samples of blood, saliva, and skin and hair, but did not disclose whose samples it was testing.

A return of the search warrant shows that detectives found 10 used cases, three black revolvers and a belt pouch with ammunition and loose ammunition in a tray.

Dist. Atty. Mary Carmack-Altwies said the case is still ahead of the investigation.

“We support the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and have offered our full support,” said Carmack-Altwies. “We don’t know if charges will be brought. We will examine all facts and evidence of the case with great discretion and have further information at a later date. “

The shooting came after crew members raised concerns about safety conditions on the set. Two Rust crew members told the LA Times that less than a week ago, a stunt double fired two accidental propeller gun discharges after being told the gun was “cold.”

Rust Movie Productions said in a statement that the safety of its cast and crew is “a top priority” and that official gun safety complaints are not known and will be conducting an internal review. On Sunday, the production company said it would stop producing the film during the investigation, but didn’t rule out a restart.

“While we were going through this crisis, we made the decision to at least finalize the set until the investigation was over,” the producers said in an email to the crew on Sunday evening. “Although our hearts are broken and it’s hard to see beyond the horizon, right now this is more of a pause than an end. The spirit that brought us all to this special place has remained. “

Hutchins’ death follows other accidents that have occurred on television and movie sets. Some in Hollywood and the wider community have requested that sets no longer have operational firearms, especially since muzzle flash could be added through post-production.

A California senator has announced plans to propose a law to ban live ammunition and firearms that can be used to fire live ammunition on movie sets and theater productions in California.

The Times authors Julia Wick and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

Comments are closed.