Warrant: Alec Baldwin Was Not Aware Weapon Contained Live Round Before Shooting

The assistant director also did not know the prop gun used on set of ‘Rust’ was loaded with live rounds, according to documents.

 

Alec Baldwin was handed a loaded weapon by an assistant director who indicated it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot a cinematographer and injured the director on the set of Rust, court records released Friday show.

The assistant director did not know the prop gun was loaded with live rounds, according to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot in the chest Thursday while on the movie set near Santa Fe, N.M., the records show. Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, was wounded.

 

Nathan Fillion
Brandon Lee

 

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office obtained the warrant Friday so investigators could document the scene at the ranch outside Santa Fe where the shooting took place. They sought Baldwin’s blood-stained costume for the film Rust as evidence, as well as the weapon that was fired, other prop guns and ammunition, and any footage that might exist.

The gun was one of three that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, had set on a cart outside the wooden structure where a scene was being acted. Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds, a detective wrote in the search warrant application.

Baldwin described the killing as a “tragic accident.” The actor was performing at the time of the shooting, the sheriff’s office said. It was unclear how many rounds were fired, and there was little information released about the weapon.

“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 wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

Sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said no immediate charges were filed, and Baldwin was permitted to travel.

The New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau said Friday that it is investigating the incident. A spokesperson for the production said work on the film was paused “for an undetermined period of time” and that they were providing counseling to workers. They added that the production is fully cooperating with law enforcement.

Images of the actor — known for his roles in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October and his impression of former President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live — showed him distraught outside the sheriff’s office on Thursday.

Guns used in making movies are sometimes real weapons that can fire either bullets or blanks, which are gunpowder charges that produce a flash and a bang but no deadly projectile. However, even blanks can eject hot gases and paper or plastic wadding from the barrel that can be lethal at close range.

Firearm accidents on Hollywood sets are extremely rare, but do occur. In 1993, Brandon Lee, the son of famed martial arts star Bruce Lee, was accidentally shot and killed on the set of The Crow by another actor who fired a revolver that had been improperly prepared.

A Twitter account run by Lee’s sister Shannon said: “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust.’ No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”

In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum was involved in a prop gun incident on the set of CBS’ Cover Up. During a break in filming, Hexum accidentally shot himself while playing with the firearm, not realizing a blank was still in the prop gun. He died from his injuries six days later at the age of 26.

In the days leading up to the prop gun shooting on the set of Rust, crew members had complained about work conditions, a source close to the production told The Hollywood Reporter, and some had been replaced with non-union workers. A number of crew members walked off the set on Thursday morning, before the incident took place, due to these complaints, the source said.

In a statement, Rust Movie Productions, LLC said, “The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority … Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”

Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Souza, 48, who was wounded in the collarbone area, was taken by ambulance to a medical center. Rust actor Frances Fisher tweeted on Friday that Souza had been discharged from the hospital, but Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center did not comment, citing patient privacy, and Fisher’s representatives did not return a request for comment.

Sheriff’s deputies responded about 2 p.m. to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls described a person being shot there, Rios said. The ranch has been used in dozens of films, including the recent Tom Hanks Western News of the World.

One of Hutchins’ final social media posts was a photo of the Rust actors standing together in solidarity with crew members. She belonged to the IATSE union that represents crew members. The union is to vote soon on a new contract with producers after threatening to strike in recent weeks over issues including long hours and on-set safety. In a statement following the Rust incident, IATSE said it “mourned” her death and would be “activating our partnerships across the industry to provide support and resources to our sisters, brothers, and kin.”

Hutchins, a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute, worked as director of photography on the 2020 action film Archenemy starring Joe Manganiello. She was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019.

“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” said “Archenemy” director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter. “She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”

Baldwin teamed up as a producer with Souza on the 2019 film Crown Vic, which starred Thomas Jane as a veteran Los Angeles police officer on a manhunt for two bank robbers. Souza’s first credited film, 2010’s Hanna’s Gold, was a treasure hunt adventure featuring Luke Perry.

Rust tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.