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Search Warrant For Alec Baldwin's Cell Phone Issued In 'Rust' Fatal Shooting Case
Detectives believe "there may be evidence on the phone" that is "relevant" to their investigation into the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the "Rust" film set.
As the investigation into the fatal shooting of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins continues, investigators now want to examine actor Alec Baldwin’s iPhone.
A judge signed off on a search warrant for the phone Thursday after authorities said Baldwin and his attorney said they would only hand over the phone with a warrant, CNN reports.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office detectives want access to the phone because they believe “there may be evidence on the phone, due to individuals using cellular phones during and/or after the commission of crime(s),” according to an affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
“Such information, if it exists, may be material and relevant to this investigation,” Det. Alexandria Hancock wrote. “Affiant was also made aware there were several emails and text messages sent and received regarding the movie production ‘Rust’ in the course of interviews.”
Investigators plan to examine call logs, digital photos and videos, private messages sent on social media platforms and other messages related to the movie — including those that may have been deleted.
Baldwin’s civil attorney Aaron Dryer said in a statement to Oxygen.com that they decided to ask for the warrant to protect Baldwin’s privacy.
“We are confident that the evidence will show that Mr. Baldwin is not responsible civilly or criminally for what occurred on October 21, and he continues to cooperate with authorities,” Dryer said. “We proactively requested that the authorities obtain a warrant so that we could take steps to protect Mr. Baldwin’s family and personal information that is clearly unrelated to the investigation.”
Dryer went on to say that cell phones contain “a person’s entire life” and that personal information stored within them “needs to be protected.”
“While they evaluate the phone information, we hope that the authorities continue to focus on how the live rounds got on the set in the first place,” he said.
Hutchins was killed Oct. 21 after a gun that Baldwin was holding during rehearsals discharged and shot Hutchins, who had been peering through a camera to set up the shot, in the chest. Director Joel Souza was struck in the shoulder with the same bullet but survived, according to previous search warrants in the case obtained by Oxygen.com.
Although crew members insisted that no live bullets were supposed to be on the set, shortly after the shooting, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza announced in a press conference that Hutchins had been killed with a “suspected live round” that had been placed into the antique revolver.
Investigators are now trying to determine how that live bullet got into the weapon.
Baldwin, who also serves as a producer on the film, was interviewed by investigators the afternoon of the shooting and is said to be communicating with detectives.
In Baldwin’s first public comments about the shooting to ABC News earlier this month, the actor insisted he “didn’t pull the trigger” and said the gun — which he believed was loaded with dummy rounds — went off after he “let go of the hammer of the gun.”
“Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property,” he said at the time. “Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”
Baldwin also said he’s been told it’s “highly unlikely” he would face criminal charges in connection with the shooting, but Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told The New York Times last month that they “haven’t ruled out anything” in the case.
Baldwin isn’t the only crew member to be under scrutiny. The film’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, was subpoenaed last week by a New Mexico judge after he allegedly dodged attempts to be interviewed about the shooting by Occupational Safety and Health officials, Deadline reports.
Investigators have said Halls told Baldwin the gun was a “cold gun” — a term in the industry used for a gun without any live ammunition — before the fatal shooting, according to search warrants in the case.
Halls' attorney, Lisa Torraco, has previously told Fox News that it “was not his responsibility” to check the gun and said Halls didn’t remember if he had passed the gun to Baldwin or not.
The film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed had also handled the weapon that day and told authorities she loaded the weapon with dummy rounds just before a lunch break, authorities said.
Her attorney, Jason Bowles, said in a statement to Oxygen.com last month that he believes his client may have framed.
“We eagerly await the FBI’s investigation as well and we are asking for a full and complete investigation of all the facts, including the live rounds themselves, how they ended up in the ‘dummies’ box, and who put them there,” he said at the time. “We are convinced that this was sabotage and Hannah is being framed.”
Last month, investigators issued another search warrant to seize ammunition, including both live and spent rounds, from PDQ Arm & Prop, a New Mexico ammo supplier who had provided some of the ammunition for the film.