Is Alec Baldwin Cooperating With the Investigation Team?

Published October 28th, 2021 - 07:29 GMT
officials probing Rust shooting incident can't determine if Alec Baldwin's still in town
In this file photo taken on September 17, 2017, Alec Baldwin accepts the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for "Saturday Night Live" onstage during the 69th Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown / AFP)
Highlights
New Mexico authorities say Alec Baldwin is cooperating with their investigation into shooting on set of Rust

New Mexico official stated that they’re ‘not exactly sure’ of Alec Baldwin’s present ‘whereabouts’ though they added that the actor has been cooperating in the probe of last week’s deadly shooting of a cinematographer on the set of his film Rust.

Baldwin, who has not been asked by law enforcement officials to remain in New Mexico, retweeted a New York Times article on Wednesday about the apparent accident.

The Times' story reports that assistant director Dave Halls told investigators that he should have inspected each round in each chamber before Baldwin fired the fatal shot that killed Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza last Thursday.

'Before he handed a revolver that he had declared "cold" to Alec Baldwin on the set of the film "Rust," Dave Halls, an assistant director, told a detective he should have inspected each round in each chamber, according to an affidavit. But he did not,' read the tweet.

Halls was apparently unaware that there were live rounds inside the chamber of the gun, according to legal documents. 

Halls admitted to investigators that he didn't check every barrel of his gun but 'should have' before he handed it to him on the set of Rust last week, and that he only looked at three of the five chambers in the weapon. 

Halls' bombshell admission is in a search warrant that was unsealed by the Sante Fe County Sheriff's department and issued on Wednesday afternoon. 

It contains details of Halls' interview with the cops, and what Hannah Gutierrez-Reed told them too.  

Souza, who was released from the hospital after suffering a bullet wound to the shoulder, was seen in public on Tuesday near his San Francisco home for the first time since the tragedy. 

Baldwin was last seen on Saturday morning leaving a New Mexico hotel with Hutchins' widower, Matthew Hutchins, and his son, Andros. 

According to Fox News, Baldwin is having work done on his home in the Hamptons, which makes it likely that he and his family are not there. 

Meanwhile, an arrest affidavit indicates that Baldwin was one of four people to have handled the weapon that he fired during rehearsals for the film.

Baldwin was the last person to take the gun. He was handed the weapon by Halls, according to investigators. 

Before then, the gun was taken out of a safe in a truck by Sarah Zachry, the film's prop master. She then handed the gun to Gutierrez.

Gutierrez, the armorer, told investigators that only a few people know the combination to the safe, according to The New York Times. 

She told detectives that she had checked dummy rounds - or those that contain no gun powder or primer cap - and ensured they were not 'hot,' according to the Times.

When the crew took a break for lunch, ammunition was left out on a cart on the set, where they were 'not secured,' according to legal documents. 

Gutierrez set up a gray two-tiered cart outside the set. Halls took the gun from the cart and gave it to Baldwin, according to legal documents cited by the Times. 

After lunch, Zachry took guns from the safe and handed them to Gutierrez, according to Gutierrez's statement to investigators. 

Baldwin’s retweet on Wednesday was his first social media activity since Saturday, when he posted a link to a Variety story with the headline: 'Alec Baldwin Was Told Prop Gun Was Safe Before Fatal Shooting, Affidavit Says.'

The previous day, Baldwin tweeted a statement expressing sadness over Hutchins’ death.

'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,' Baldwin said Friday morning on Twitter.

'I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.' 

A .45-caliber Colt revolver used on the set of the film Rust was not thoroughly checked before being given to Baldwin, who fired a live lead bullet, according to officials and a new court filing. 

Investigators said on Wednesday that there was 'some complacency' in how weapons were handled on the movie set, but it's too soon to determine whether charges will be filed.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza noted that 500 rounds of ammunition - a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and suspected live rounds - were found while searching the set of the Western Rust.

'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,' Mendoza told a news conference nearly a week after the shooting.

Authorities also confirmed there was no footage of the shooting, which happened during a rehearsal.

Investigators believe Baldwin's gun fired a single live round that killed Hutchins and wounded Souza.

Detectives have recovered a lead projectile they believe the actor fired last week. 

Testing is being done to confirm whether the projectile taken from Souza's shoulder was fired from the same long Colt revolver used by Baldwin. 

The FBI will help with ballistics analysis.

Hannah Gutierrez, the crew member in charge of weapons on the set, told investigators she had checked guns there but found no 'hot rounds' - apparently meaning live ammunition - before the shooting, according to the affidavit.

Halls told investigators he 'should have checked all' the rounds in the gun before handing it to Baldwin but had not done so, according to the affidavit. 

Authorities said previously that Baldwin was handed what he thought was a 'cold,' or safe, gun by Halls, who took it from a cart used by Gutierrez.

Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said while no criminal charges have been filed, they are not ruling out that possibility.

'All options are on the table. ... No one has been ruled out at this point,' Carmack-Altwies said of potential charges.

Gutierrez, whose job is formally called the film crew's armorer, said ammunition was not secured on the set during a lunch break before the shooting, the affidavit showed. 

It quoted her as saying that firearms were secured inside a safe kept on a white truck during the break and that no live ammunition is ever kept on a movie set.

'Only a few people' had access to the safe and knew the combination to open it, Gutierrez said, according to the affidavit.

A judge approved a request by investigators to search the truck on Wednesday.

Authorities have collected 600 pieces of evidence including three firearms, 500 rounds of ammunition - some believed to be live bullets - and several pieces of clothing and accessories in the ongoing investigation, Mendoza said.

Some evidence is being sent to an FBI crime lab for analysis, Mendoza added.

Authorities have the firearm used in the shooting and recovered the bullet from the shoulder of Souza, who was wounded but later released from the hospital, Mendoza said.


It appears the same bullet struck Souza and Hutchins, Mendoza added.

Mendoza said the gun used by Baldwin was an Italian-made Pietta Long Colt revolver.

'We would consider it a live round - a bullet, live - because it did fire from the weapon and obviously caused the death of Ms. Hutchins and injured Mr. Souza,' Mendoza said.

Baldwin, 63, serves as a co-producer of Rust, a Western film set in 1880s Kansas. Production on the Bonanza Creek Ranch, near Santa Fe, has been halted.

Mendoza said Baldwin, Halls and Gutierrez all are cooperating with the investigation.

Asked about the use of real weapons on a movie set, the sheriff said, '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.'

According to a call sheet obtained by DailyMail.com, the crew was rehearsing a mock gunfight inside the church building when Hutchins was hit. 

Co-stars Jensen Ackles, Swen Temmers and Travis Hammer were also in the scene – numbered 121 - alongside Baldwin's stunt double Blake Teixeira and stunt coordinator Allan Graf.

Ackles spoke about his weapons training for the film a week before the tragic on-set shooting accident. 

The actor, who frequently used a gun playing Dean Winchester for 15 seasons on Supernatural, regaled a crowd of fans with an anecdote about his brief gun training for Rust a week before Baldwin's tragic gun accident.

'I've got a 6 AM call tomorrow to have a big shootout,' Ackles was heard saying in a video captured by a fan. 'They had me pick my gun, they were like, 'Alright, what gun would you like?' and I was like, 'I don't know?' and the armorer was like, 'Do you have gun experience?'' 

'I was like, 'A little.' And she's like, 'Okay, well, this is how you load it, this is how we check it and make sure it's safe.''

The crowd, as well as Jensen's Supernatural co-star Jared Padalecki, burst out laughing since the actor had so much on-camera experience shooting.

He continued with the story, telling the group that the armorer told him to fire off some blank rounds over in a field.

'So she's like, 'I'll just put some blanks in there and just fire a couple of rounds towards the hill.'

'I walk out and she's like, 'Just make sure you pull the hammer all the way back and aim at your target'.

Demonstrating how he did it in training, Jensen said he whipped the gun out of his holster and expertly fired the weapon, leading the armorer to jokingly call him 'an a**hole' for pretending like he was inexperienced.  

Production notes show the Colt pistol was one of several weapons on set at the time but the only one used in 121 and the preceding 118.

Filming had been due to continue with a scene that showed Baldwin being thrown into a stagecoach but it was halted following the accidents.

Further scenes featuring Baldwin and Ackles had been scheduled for the weekend but have now been postponed indefinitely.

Rust was only the second movie Gutierrez-Reed has worked on and sources on the set described her as 'inexperienced and green'. 

According to her LinkedIn page, she most recently worked as a videographer at Synth Fire, a California-based news and media company, and as a documentary filmmaker for the City of Flagstaff in Arizona. 

She worked as an armorer for Yellowstone film ranch between March and June 2021, but according to the page stopped working there three months before filming for Rust started in October.

Gutierrez-Reed had only recently left Northern Arizona university, where she studied creative media and film between 2017 and 2020. 

The daughter of legendary Hollywood armorer Thell Reed, 78, Gutierrez-Reed previously worked on Nicholas Cage movie The Old Way – admitting beforehand that she 'wasn't sure' if she was ready in a podcast interview.

She said: 'I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly.'

She also admitted in the podcast interview she found loading blanks into a gun 'the scariest' thing because she did not know how to do it and had sought help from her father. 

But while Gutierrez-Reed thought the job had gone smoothly, sources told the Daily Beast that the rookie armorer was 'unsafe' and had handed a gun to 11-year-old actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong.

The source said: 'She was a bit careless with the guns, waving it around every now and again. There were a couple times she was loading the blanks and doing it in a fashion that we thought was unsafe.' 

The insider added that they had seen her loading a gun on pebble strewn ground – which has the potential to be dangerous – before handing off the gun to Armstrong.

'She was reloading the gun on the ground, where there were pebbles and stuff,' the source said.

'We didn't see her check it, we didn't know if something got in the barrel or not.'

Meanwhile, sources on the Rust set have said the fatal incident was a result of production failings from top to bottom.   

Zak Knight, a pyrotechnic and special effects engineer who is a member of Local 44, told DailyMail.com on Friday that Hutchins' death was caused by a 'cascade of failures' by multiple people: 'There should have never been live rounds on a movie set, that's number one. Number two is every single person on a movie set has a right to inspect a weapon before it's fired. 

'And number three is, there is no reason to ever put a person in front of a weapon that's firing. 

Sources added that assistant director Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin and told him it was safe, should have checked the weapon.

'He's supposed to be our last line of defense and he failed us,' one of the sources on set said. 'He's the last person that's supposed to look at that firearm.'

A Rust production source told The Daily Beast that there were at least two previous incidents of guns being accidentally discharged by other crew members on set before Thursday's tragic incident.

Rust crew members claim there were several complaints made against the armorer on the set and that at least six 'fed-up' people had walked off the set prior to Gutierrez-Reed handing Baldwin the gun that killed Hutchins.

The crew made their complaints directly to assistant director Dave Hall - who is named in the search warrant affidavit as the person handed Baldwin the gun that killed Hutchins and told him it was safe - and demanded all the discharges were documented.

'All of us yelled at him, 'That better be on the production report, these guys are irresponsible and shouldn't be here,' a production source said. 'That should be automatic grounds for termination on a union film set, you should be gone. The first time that gun went off without telling anybody, that whole department should have been replaced, immediately. Clearly production thought better of it, decided to roll the dice and pay the ultimate price.'

Deadline also cites an unnamed source who said a gun had gone off 'in a cabin' while someone was holding it, days prior to the shooting that killed Hutchins.

'A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin. They just fired loud pops – a person was just holding it in their hands and it went off,' they said, apparently referring to unintentional discharges.  

A Santa Fe County Sheriff Department spokesman said: 'The investigation remains active and open. Witnesses continue to be interviewed and evidence collected.'

In addition to the criminal probe, New Mexico's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau is investigating Hutchins' death, and could impose civil penalties even if no charges are brought in the case.

'Our state OSHA program is investigating this,' Rebecca Roose, deputy cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department,' told Deadline.

'The state takes all workplace safety issues very seriously and will work diligently through our investigation of this tragic fatality.' 

The shooting has sent shockwaves through Hollywood, prompting a debate about safety protocols in film and television - including whether certain types of guns used as props should be banned - and working conditions on low-budget productions.

Before the incident, camera operators had walked off the set to protest working conditions.

Baldwin was drawing a revolver across his body and pointing it at a camera while rehearsing when the weapon fired, according to court documents. There is no video footage of the incident, Mendoza said.

The film's producers have hired the law firm Jenner & Block to investigate the shooting. In a letter sent to cast and crew, the film's production team said Jenner 'will have full discretion about who to interview and any conclusions they draw.'

 


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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