'Rust' assistant director had a history of unsafe practices, prop maker says

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LOS ANGELES — The assistant director on the New Mexico set of "Rust" where Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins allowed an unsafe environment on more than one production, according to a prop maker who previously worked with him.

In a detailed statement to NBC News, prop maker Maggie Goll said she was called to work on Hulu's "Into the Dark" anthology series in February 2019 and worked with Dave Halls, who "at first he seemed like an older, affable First [assistant director] with the usual run of idiosyncrasies, but that facade soon disappeared."

"For those who don't already know, the anthology series was a 'Side Letter' agreement ... that allowed for lesser working conditions, no true jurisdiction over covered union work aka non-preferential hiring, and what amounts to poverty wages for the crew," Goll said.

Halls handed the gun to Baldwin and yelled "Cold gun" before the fatal shooting, according to records filed in a Santa Fe court.

Halls did not respond to requests for comment Friday and Saturday.

Goll, an experienced special effects technician and pyrotechnician, said that in one instance, Halls attempted to keep filming even after the lead pyrotechnician had suffered a medical emergency and the set had become unsafe.

"He did not maintain a safe working environment," Goll said. "Sets were almost always allowed to become increasingly claustrophobic, no established fire lanes, exits blocked, talent ... safety meetings were nonexistent."

The gun Baldwin used that was supposed to contain blanks had misfired before on the set, sources familiar with the situation told NBC News Friday. Investigators have not said whether the gun held blanks.

When Baldwin pulled the trigger, he unwittingly killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her.

"There is absolutely no reason that gun safety should be ignored on set, even when it is a non-firing prop firearm," Goll said.

On the set of "Into the Dark," Halls "did not feel the same" and neglected to hold safety meetings or make announcements prior to the appearance of a firearm on set, Goll added.

"The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon's presence was because the Assistant Prop Master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day," she said.

No one has been arrested or charged in the shooting and the investigation is ongoing.

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