Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting case becomes complex, without accusations or conclusions

The authorities of the county of Santa Fe (New Mexico, USA) found in the study where Alec Baldwin accidentally killed Halyna Hutchins about 500 rounds of ammunition, among which they believe that there may be real bullets mixed with fake projectiles.

The Sheriff of Santa Fe, Adan Mendoza, was extremely cautious during his speech at a press conference, held this Wednesday, in which he confirmed that they had located the gun and the bullet that killed the director of photography of the western shoot "Rust" last Thursday.

The pistol, a Colt 45 revolver, It is one of the almost 600 objects that the authorities have confiscated after inspecting the study, where they found about 500 rounds of ammunition that Sheriff Mendoza described as a mixture of "blank cartridges, dummy bullets" and what they suspect they might be "real bullets".

At this stage of the investigation, Santa Fe authorities do not dare to draw conclusions and they shuffle all the possible scenarios, including the imputation of some of those involved in the filming.

But when asked by the press about the possible legal responsibility of Baldwin, who in addition to being the protagonist of the film that was being shot is one of the producers, the bailiff stressed that "nobody is ruled out".

The only confirmation so far is that the revolver that Baldwin fired was stored with two other weapons, one modified so that it could not fire live ammunition and another made of plastic.

But on Thursday afternoon Baldwin received the authentic revolver in hand and loaded with at least one bullet seconds before rehearsing a scene in which he had to aim at the objective of the camera that Hutchins was handling, whom he killed with a shot that he also wounded the film’s director, Joel Souza, in the shoulder.

This revolver is known to have passed through two other hands before reaching Baldwin: Dave Halls, the assistant director, and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the production gunsmith.

"The investigation will continue and, if the sheriff’s office determines that there has been a crime and there is probable cause, there will be arrests and charges will be filed."said Mendoza, who insisted that "when there are weapons around, security must be extreme"

He added, in any case, that both Baldwin and the rest of the people were collaborating with the investigation.

Authorities also confirmed that there were no images of the shooting, which occurred during a rehearsal.

For her part, Santa Fe County Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said she was prepared to press charges, "if so determined by the investigation", but stressed that he does not want to make any hasty decisions.

As the official investigations progress, other details have become known such as that the assistant who handed the gun to Baldwin was fired from another shoot in 2019 for a similar incident with a gun that, fortunately, did not injure anyone.

The statements of team members who worked on the filming of "Rust" describe a precarious work environment in which protests piled up and half a dozen employees resigned on the same day of the accident.

Two other weapons were seized, including a single-action revolver that may have been modified and a plastic pistol that was described as a revolver, authorities said.

“We suspect there were other real rounds, but that depends on the test. But right now we are going to determine how they got there, why they were there, why they shouldn’t have been, ”said Mendoza.

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said investigators cannot yet say if it was negligence or by whom. He called it a complex case that will require further investigation and analysis.

“It will take a lot more facts, corroborated facts, before we can reach that standard of criminal negligence,” he said.

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Investigators said they plan to follow up on reports of other incidents related to gun failures on the set.

Mike Tristano, a veteran gunsmith or weapons specialist for movies, was alarmed to hear that there were real rounds mixed with blank bullets and dummy rounds.

“I find it awful,” Tristano said. “In more than 600 movies and TV series that I did, we never had a real round on set.”

The shooting has baffled Hollywood professionals and sparked calls to better regulate firearms on film sites or even ban them in the age of realistic computer-generated imagery. Court records say an assistant director took the gun from a wheelbarrow and indicated that it was safe to use by yelling “cold weapon.”

The film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, said she checked the fake bullets on the day of the shooting to make sure none were “hot.” He also told a detective that while the weapons used for the filming were in storage during the team’s lunch break, the ammunition was left in an unsecured cart, according to a search warrant published Wednesday before the press conference. .

Gutierrez Reed told a detective that live ammunition was never kept on set.

When contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday, she declined to comment. On Monday, he said in a text message that he was looking for a lawyer.

Assistant director David Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin before the shooting, said Gutierrez Reed usually opened the hatch on the gun and spun the drum, although he couldn’t recall if he did so before the shooting. He said he only remembered seeing three rounds on the weapon, as per the order.

After the shooting, Halls brought the gun to Gutierrez Reed and said he saw five rounds in the gun, at least four of them “fake” indicated by a hole in the side and a cap on the round. Halls said there was also a casing on the pistol that did not have the cap and did not have the hole that indicated it was a fake, according to the court order.

“David indicated that the incident was not a deliberate act,” according to a warrant issued Wednesday to search a truck used on set.

Baldwin, 63, known for his roles in “30 Rock,” “The Departed,” and “The Hunt for Red October,” as well as his portrayal of the former president. Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” has described the event as a “tragic accident.”

The pistol Baldwin used was one of three the gunsmith had placed in a wheelbarrow outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.

Souza, who was behind Hutchins, told investigators that there should never be live bullets near the scene.

Authorities have seized three black revolvers, holstered gun belts, ammunition boxes, a fanny pack with ammunition, several used cartridges, and clothing and swabs containing what was believed to be blood.

The “Rust” production has been plagued by workplace disputes since the beginning of early October. Hours before the shooting, several members of the camera crew left the set amid disagreements over working conditions, including security procedures.

It is unlikely that Baldwin, in his acting role, will be held criminally or civilly responsible for the tragedy. However, as a producer, he is among a long list of film associates who could face some sort of liability.

Colleagues have raised concerns about Halls’ safety record in two previous productions. Halls has not returned phone calls or emails seeking comment.

Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is cooperating with Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and conducting its own internal review of procedures with the production shutdown.

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