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District Attorney Says Criminal Charges 'On The Table' In Fatal Shooting Of Cinematographer On 'Rust' Set
Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins could take weeks, or months, as investigators try to determine what type of ammunition was fired and who loaded the gun.
“We haven’t ruled out anything,” district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told The New York Times. “Everything at this point, including criminal charges, is on the table.”
Hutchins died Thursday in New Mexico after she was shot in the chest by a gun being handled by actor Alec Baldwin on the set of the movie “Rust."
Baldwin, who had been told by assistant director Dave Halls that it was a “cold gun,” meaning it didn't have any live ammunition, had been rehearsing a “cross draw” where he took the gun out and pointed it at the camera when the gun went off striking Hutchins and director Joel Souza, who was shot in the shoulder, according to a search warrant obtained by Oxygen.com.
Carmack-Altwies said authorities are now trying to determine what type of round was in the gun and who loaded it into the weapon, which she said was not a prop but “was a legit gun.”
“There were an enormous amount of bullets on this set, and we need to find out what kinds they were,” she said.
Authorities recovered multiple firearms and ammunition from the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set as part of investigation, according to Fox News.
Carmack-Altwies has said detectives are now collecting ballistics and evidence to piece together how the fatal shooting occurred and said it could be a lengthy investigation.
“It’s probably weeks, if not months, of follow-up investigation that we’re going to need to get to the point of charging,” she said.
Before the fatal shooting Thursday, Halls grabbed one of three guns off a cart set up by the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez and took it to Baldwin, who was rehearsing inside a church building on the Western set, according to the search warrant.
Souza later told investigators that any firearms are supposed to be checked by Gutierrez and Halls before being handed to an actor and that “there should never be live rounds whatsoever, near or around the scene.”
Gutierrez—who was referred to as Hannah Gutierrez Reed by The Los Angeles Times—is the 24-year-old daughter of veteran armorer Thell Reed. Before taking the position on “Rust,” she had served as the head armorer for the movie “The Old Way,” starring Clint Howard and Nicholas Cage. It was her first film to assume the leadership role, according to the paper.
Half a dozen camera crew members had walked off the “Rust” set Thursday morning after lodging multiple complaints about their lodging, payment and their concern over gun safety on the set.
Days before the fatal shooting, Baldwin’s stunt double had accidentally fired two rounds with a gun after he had been told he was working with a “cold” weapon, two crew members told the paper.
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” one of the crew members said. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
Although there have been reports that crew members may have been using the guns with live ammunition for target practice before the shooting, Carmack-Altwies told The New York Times that those reports are “unconfirmed” at this time.
Despite the reports, Rust Movie Productions has said safety had been a priority on the set.
“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company, " they said in a statement to The Los Angeles Times. “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”