“Rust” assistant director Dave Halls told police that he did not thoroughly check the guns used on set, as he “should have,” according to details in a third search warrant released Wednesday to media.
Halls responded to police questions about safety on set for firearms, saying that he checks the barrel of the gun for obstructions, that the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed opens the hatch, spins the drum, and he says “cold gun” on set. Halls says that when Gutierrez-Reed showed him the gun before rehearsal, he only remembers seeing three rounds.
“He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum,” according to the affidavit. He stressed to police that this was not a deliberate act.
Police also spoke with the armorer Gutierrez-Reed who said that she checked the “dummies” and ensured they were not “hot” rounds. She also said she handed the gun to Alec Baldwin a couple of times during the course of filming and, when asked by police about the presence of live ammo, responded that “no live ammo is ever kept on set,” according to the affidavit.
Gutierrez-Reed said that on the day of the incident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, she ensured the rounds were not “hot” and that as the crew broke for lunch, the guns were moved to a safe inside a prop truck on set. However during lunch, the ammo was left on a cart on the set, not secured. After lunch, a prop master, Sarah Zachary, pulled the firearms out of the safe and handed them to her, and added that only a few people know the combination to the safe, according to Gutierrez-Reed.
TheWrap has reported the gun that killed Hutchins was used by crew members that morning for live-ammunition target practice. According to an individual with knowledge of the set, a number of crew members had taken prop guns from the set to go “plinking,” a hobby in which people shoot at beer cans with live ammunition to pass the time.
The Santa Fe Sheriff and the Santa Fe County District Attorney held a news conference Wednesday in which they said a “live” round with a “lead projectile” was in the gun that killed Hutchins and injured the director last Thursday. A mix of live rounds along with dummy cartridges and blanks were recovered from the set, approximately 500 rounds of ammunition in all, and detectives also recovered three firearms from set, two of which were plastic, non-functioning weapons.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies added that it was too early to determine whether criminal charges would be filed over Hutchins’ death but that no one has been ruled out to face charges at this point. “We are not at that juncture yet. If the facts and evidence support charges, we will initiate charges at that time,” she said.
Mendoza said Wednesday that Baldwin, Halls and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed had all given statements to authorities and were cooperating with the investigation. The previous pair of search warrants from authorities revealed that Halls had grabbed a gun from a table laid out by armorer Gutierrez-Reed and yelled “cold gun” prior to handing it to Baldwin. The warrants also detailed that Baldwin was rehearsing a scene in which he was “pointing the revolver towards the camera lens” when the firearm discharged.
Earlier Wednesday, the sheriff and the DA would not comment specifically on the question of criminal negligence or other recent reports of unsafe conditions on set, but the sheriff added that he believed there was “some complacency on this set, and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry.”