Affidavit: Gun not properly checked before fatal movie set shooting

·3 min read

Oct. 27—Assistant director David Halls and armorer Hannah Gutierrez had a ritual on the set of "Rust." Halls told deputies he would check the gun barrel for obstructions, Gutierrez would spin the cylinder to check the revolver for ammunition and — if determined safe — he would say "cold gun on set."

But, during a rehearsal in an old church on Oct. 21, Halls couldn't remember if Gutierrez spun the cylinder and said he didn't check all the rounds inside the Colt .45 revolver before handing it to movie star Alec Baldwin, according to court documents. Halls told deputies, in hindsight, he should have checked.

When Baldwin pulled the trigger, authorities say a lead projectile fired from the gun — killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza on the set at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe. Hall told deputies when he checked the gun after, he saw four "dummy" casings with a hole in the side and a fifth casing with no hole.

"It was not a deliberate act," Halls told deputies.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said during a news conference Wednesday morning that investigators recovered the lead projectile from Souza's shoulder and had found hundreds of rounds of ammunition at the set, including dummy rounds, blank rounds and "live rounds."

Mendoza said investigators suspect the round fired by Baldwin was a real one. Nobody has been charged in the incident.

The news conference and a third search warrant filed in Santa Fe Magistrate Court Wednesday shined light on the deadly shooting that has captured national headlines and put a spotlight on firearm use in the movie industry and concerns among "Rust" cast and crew members about safety on the set leading up to the incident.

During the news conference, Mendoza said investigators recovered "what we believe to be possible additional live rounds on set." He said that evidence will be sent to the FBI crime lab for confirmation.

"This investigation is active so I won't comment on how they got there," he said.

Baldwin was rehearsing a cross draw when the shooting occurred.

Mendoza said investigators have collected about 600 items of evidence from the scene, including three firearms and approximately 500 rounds of ammunition — a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and the suspected live rounds.

"We believe that we have in our possession the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin," Mendoza said. "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."

Among the questions the sheriff's office is trying to answer is whether the individuals who handled the firearm before it was handed to Baldwin should have realized the gun wasn't safe.

"We're going to try to determine how that happened and if they should have known that there was a live round in that firearm," Mendoza said.

He stressed that his office is conducting a thorough and objective investigation.

"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," Mendoza said. "Otherwise we will complete our investigation and forward the full investigation and evidence to the district attorney for review."

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said it's too soon to say whether any charges will be filed.

"If the facts and evidence and law support charges then I will initiate prosecution at that time," she said.

Hutchins died at an Albuquerque hospital and Souza was hospitalized briefly in Santa Fe. Since the shooting national news reports have detailed a litany of complaints from those on the set, including multiple gun mishaps and a walk off of the camera crew due to lack of safety and poor working conditions.

On Tuesday, The Wrap reported that the film's crew had used the prop guns — including the one used in the shooting — to fire live bullets at beer cans hours before the deadly incident.

Third search warrant affidavit in "Rust" movie set shooting by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd