Last Thursday while on the set for the movie “Rust”, a fatal shot was fired from a revolver cleared by multiple people as safe. Alec Baldwin held the smoking gun pointed at the camera, as he was directed to do so, but the catastrophic event of firing a live round into cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was an unprecedented impromptu tragedy.
What is important to know in this case, is that there are several safety precautions taken before an actor is ever even handed a gun. On this movie set, there was an armorer, an assistant to the armorer, the guns were placed inside of a locked van with a combination known to very few. Furthermore, all ammunition (blanks and dummies) were placed on a cart separate from the guns. The armorer has the duty of checking for any bullets or obstructions in the gun ensuring it cannot fire hot. The assistant to the armorer essentially does the same thing over again for good measure. Then, the gun can be handed to the actor and deemed “cold” meaning it has no means to fire a projectile.
Once the scene was set, Baldwin was handed the verbally proclaimed “cold” gun. He raised the revolver, pointed it at the camera, and unknowingly shot a real bullet hitting Hutchins in the chest and director Joel Souza in the shoulder.
Affidavits regarding the fallout admit to improper safety procedure adherence and a lack of professionalism with the gun. Statements claiming that some workers used the gun for leisure shooting during off-hours and other claims of never having live rounds on set were taken and will have significant weight in the outcome of the case. The assistant to the armorer attested that during his check he was shown at least three proper rounds but should have completed the check of all five before asserting the gun was safe.
Investigators are struggling to find out how a live round could have possibly ended up in the gun and why. With only three approved parties handling the gun leading up to the incident, officers executed search warrants and gathered fingerprints off the gun, various blood found bodily fluids, and residue.
Armorer Hanna Gutierrez stated she had checked the gun’s dummy rounds prior and was sure they were not live rounds. The only people she testified personally handing the gun to throughout the day were Baldwin and David Halls (first assistant director).
Despite gaining public attention, charges are not being made yet due to the complexity of the case and insubstantial evidence necessary to do so.
More details are to come as the story develops.