David Halls, the first assistant director on ‘Rust’, has admitted to investigators that he should have checked a weapon for live rounds before giving it to veteran star Alec Baldwin, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Baldwin fired the weapon while rehearsing a scene on October 21 at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, striking cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the director, Joel Souza, reports variety.com.
Hutchins was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque, where she died.
Detectives had earlier disclosed that Halls declared the weapon was a “cold gun”, before giving it to Baldwin, meaning it did not contain live rounds.
The affidavit filed on Wednesday includes new details from Halls’ interview with detectives, as well as details from an interview with Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer on the film.
“David advised when Hannah showed him the firearm before continuing rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds,” the affidavit states.
“He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum.”
Gutierrez Reed told investigators that live ammunition was not used on the set.
However, Sheriff Adan Mendoza told reporters on Wednesday that multiple live rounds were possibly recovered from the scene, in addition to the one that killed Hutchins and lodged in Souza’s shoulder.
Gutierrez Reed also stated that the guns were kept secure in a safe in the prop truck during lunch, and that only a few people had access to the safe.
She said that after lunch, Sarah Zachry, the film’s property master, got the firearms out of the truck and gave them to her.
“When Affiant asked about live ammo on set, Hannah responded no live-ammo is ever kept on set,” the affidavit states.
Gutierrez Reed had checked the “dummy” rounds earlier in the day, to ensure they were not acehot” rounds, according to her interview.
She told deputies that the ammunition was kept on a cart during lunch, where it was not secured. Halls was also asked about safety practices with weapons on set.
“I check the barrel for obstructions, most of he time there’s no live fire, she (Hannah) opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say ‘cold gun on set’,” he told investigators.
He added that he was not sure whether she spun the drum in this instance.
Investigators obtained the warrant in order to conduct a search of the prop truck.
Mary Carmack-Altwies, the local district attorney, said at a press conference on Wednesday that it is too soon to say whether charges will be filed.
“If the facts and the evidence and law support charges, then I will initiate prosecution at that time,” Carmack-Altwies said.
“I am a prosecutor that was elected in part because I do not make rash decisions and I do not rush to judgment.”
The film crew was shooting a scene inside a church building on the ranch. According to earlier affidavits, Baldwin was practicing cross-drawing the firearm while seated in a church pew, and was demonstrating how he would point it toward the camera, when it went off.
Souza told investigators that he heard a loud pop, and that Hutchins then grabbed her midsection and stumbled backwards, before being helped to the ground. Souza also noted that he was bleeding from the shoulder.
The affidavit filed on Wednesday states that in the aftermath, Halls retrieved the gun from the pew.
“After the gun was fired, David Halls picked up the firearm from a pew inside the church, and took it to the Armorer,” the document states.
“Hannah then was told to ‘open’ the gun so he could see what was inside. David advised he could only remember seeing at least four ‘dummy’ casings with the hole on the side, and one without the hole. He advised this round did not have the ‘cap’ on it and was just the casing. David advised the incident was not a deliberate act.”
Gutierrez Reed gave the gun to deputies once they arrived on the scene.