Authorities have determined that the projectile that fatally injured cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was a lead bullet, one of some 500 cartridges recovered from the set of the movie “Rust,” Santa County authorities said Wednesday. Fe.
At a press conference, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said the fatal projectile was recovered from the shoulder of Director Joel Souza at an area hospital.
“We also believe that we have the worn shell of the bullet fired from the pistol,” Mendoza said.
This shell casing, along with the lead projectile and “any additional live cartridges” recovered from the set, will be submitted to the FBI criminal lab in Quantico, Virginia.
Hutchins was shot by what Mendoza described as a Colt .45 revolver fired by actor and producer Alec Baldwin on the set of the film outside of Santa Fe, NM last week.
The hundreds of cartridges recovered from the set were a mixture of “blanks, dummy bullets and what we suspect to be live bullets,” according to Mendoza. Additional cartridges were found inside the weapon Baldwin fired, according to Mendoza, although it is not clear whether these projectiles were blank or live ammunition.
Two other people handled the gun in addition to Baldwin: production gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed and first assistant director Dave Halls, according to court records. Halls said he inspected the gun shortly after the fatal shot and saw four “dummy boxes” inside, according to a search warrant affidavit released Wednesday morning.
Mendoza said a total of three guns were recovered from the set. The weapon used by Baldwin was an FD Pietta Colt .45 revolver. The other weapons were an army single-action revolver with a modified cylinder, which may not have been able to fire shells, and an unusable plastic Colt .45 revolver. Baldwin played an outlaw in 1880s Kansas in “Rust,” wielding popular frontier guns.
Mendoza also said his office was investigating rumors that crew members may have engaged in recreational shooting on ranch property.
“I encourage anyone who has information that a target in training or a firearm has been unloaded from the film set for training or for any reason, to contact the sheriff,” a- he declared.
The press conference was held outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, about 10 miles from the Bonanza Creek ranch setting where “Rust” was filmed. Mendoza was joined by New Mexico 1st Judicial Dist. Atty. Mary Carmack-Altwies, who will ultimately decide which criminal charges will be laid, if any.
Although she acknowledged the case was legally “complex,” Carmack-Altwies declined to comment on any potential charges or provide a timeline for when she could make a decision. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the shooting is active, according to Mendoza, who said his detectives still had several witnesses to interview.
“If the facts, the evidence and the law support the charges, then I will prosecute at that time,” Carmack-Altwies said. “I am a prosecutor who was elected, in part, because I do not make rash decisions and I do not rush to judge.”
When asked if Baldwin could potentially face criminal charges, Carmack-Altwies said “all options are on the table at this point,” stressing that she would not speculate on who, if any, could be legally guilty of the shooting.
Carmack-Altwies said there was no precedent for a case like this in Santa Fe County. The press conference marked the first time that the two top law enforcement officials on the The case has been appealing to the public since the fatal shooting – a tragedy that comes amid a wider calculation of working conditions and safety on film sets.
Court records released on Wednesday offered a more precise timeline of critical moments leading up to the shooting and shed additional light on some of the security protocols on set.
Gutierrez Reed, the 24-year-old gunsmith on the set, told detectives she checked the “dummies” to make sure they weren’t “hot shots” on the day of the shooting, according to the ‘affidavit. After the crew broke for lunch, they said the guns used for filming were placed in a safe in a propeller truck, but the ammunition was left on a cart, no secure.
Halls, the deputy director, told police normal safety protocol on set involved checking gun barrels for obstructions before Gutierrez Reed “opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on the shelf, “meaning the gun was not loaded, according to the affidavit.
Prior to “continuing the rehearsal” on the day of the shooting, Halls said he recalled seeing three rounds inside the gun, according to the affidavit. It was not clear what type of ammunition he was referring to.
“He said he should have checked them all, but he didn’t and couldn’t remember if [Gutierrez Reed] turns the drum, ”according to the record.
Court records show Baldwin received the weapon from Halls, who picked up one of three weapons prepared by Gutierrez Reed. According to the affidavit, the firearms were placed on a rolling cart and brought to Baldwin.
According to the affidavit, Halls allegedly shouted “cold gun” as he handed it to the actor.
The shooting happened when Baldwin, sitting on a bench in the old wooden church, was practicing removing the gun from its holster and pointing it at the camera, according to the affidavit.
Souza, the director of the film, told investigators he heard “what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop”.
Hutchins, who was standing next to cameraman Reid Russell, was shot in the chest. Souza told detective that Hutchins grabbed his abdomen and began to “stumble back”, according to the affidavit.
Souza, who was behind Hutchins at the time, suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder and was treated at a Santa Fe hospital and released on Friday. Hutchins was airlifted to a hospital with a trauma center in Albuquerque, where she was pronounced deceased.
“Rust” was just the second feature film Gutierrez Reed had worked on as senior gunsmith, meaning she was responsible for overseeing safety and the use of guns on set. Questions have been raised about his inexperience and recent behavior in handling weapons.
According to the warrant affidavit released Wednesday, Gutierrez Reed told a detective last week that “no live ammunition is ever kept on set,” apparently contradicting Sheriff Mendoza’s comments about the recovery of live ammunition from the ranch.
Hours before the shooting, several members of the team left the set to protest what they called long hours, long journeys and long waits for paychecks, as well as a lack of protocols. safety which resulted in multiple accidental discharges of propeller pistols before the fatal incident last Thursday.
Safety protocols that are standard in the industry, including firearms inspections, were not strictly followed on set, several crew members told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. The crew was 12 days away from a 21-day shoot for the low-budget independent film when production was halted.
Halls, the first assistant director, has also come under scrutiny before. In 2019, he was fired from the movie “Freedom’s Path” after a crew member suffered a minor and temporary injury when a propeller pistol “fired unexpectedly,” according to a producer of the film. who declined to be named because he was not authorized to do so. comment.
Mendoza said it would be up to the prosecutor to determine whether charges against unsafe practices and negligence on other sets that Halls and Gutierrez Reed previously worked on would be taken into account when assessing possible charges.
“We will follow up on some of these statements that are made that there have been other incidents,” Mendoza said, urging anyone who might have information to contact the sheriff’s office.
On Tuesday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham suggested the state could push for stricter safety protocols for productions shot in New Mexico, where production has become an integral part of the state economy in recent years.
“I think there was some complacency on set, and I think there are safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and maybe the state of New Mexico,” he said. declared Mendoza.
Wick reported from Santa Fe, NM Queally reported from Los Angeles. Times editors Meg James and Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.