SANTA FE, NM (AP) – Light from a high afternoon sun broke through the tall windows of the weathered wood church, clinging to the planks of the parquet and illuminating the stained glass. Outside, the barren soil of the northern New Mexico foothills stretched for miles – a picturesque setting for a shootout in the Old West.
Actor Alec Baldwin, haggard in a white beard and period costume as he played an injured character named Harlan Rust, sat on a bench, figuring out how he would fire a long barreled Colt .45 revolver at his body and point it at the movie camera.
A team prepared the shot after adjusting the camera angle to account for shadows. The camera wasn’t rolling yet, but director Joel Souza looked over cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ shoulder to see what she saw.
Souza heard what sounded like a whip followed by a loud pop, he later told investigators.
Suddenly, Hutchins was complaining about her stomach, grabbing her abdomen and stumbling back, saying she couldn’t feel her legs. Souza saw that she was bloody and that he was also bleeding: the lead from Baldwin’s gun had pierced Hutchins and sank into his shoulder.
A medic started trying to save Hutchins as people exited the building and called 911. Lighting specialist Serge Svetnoy said he held her as she died, her blood on his hands . Responders transported Hutchins in a helicopter to a hospital, to no avail.
A week after the October 21 shoot on the set of the movie “Rust”, accounts and images published in court documents, interviews and social media posts have described much of what happened. passed during the tragedy, but they have not yet answered the key. question: how live ammunition ended up in a real pistol used as a movie prop, despite precautions that should have prevented it.
At a press conference Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said there was “some complacency” in the way guns were handled on set. Investigators found 500 rounds – a mix of blank cartridges, dummy cartridges and what appeared to be actual cartridges, although the set’s firearms specialist, gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed, said that ‘there should never have been real ammunition.
“Obviously, I think the industry recently set a safety record,” Mendoza said. “I think there was some complacency about this set, and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by industry and maybe the state of New Mexico.”
Mike Tristano, a veteran film gun specialist, called it “appalling” that live bullets are mixed with blank bullets and dummy bullets.
“In over 600 movies and TV shows that I’ve made, we’ve never had a live tour on set,” Tristano said.
The shooting took place at Bonanza Creek Ranch, a sprawling property that bills itself as “where the Old West comes to life.” Over 130 films have been made there, dating back to Jimmy Stewart’s “Laramie’s Man” in 1955. Other feature films include “3:10 to Yuma”, “Cowboys and Aliens” and the miniseries ” Lonesome Dove ”. Tom Hanks’ “News of the World” and “The Comeback Trail” westerns starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman have been filmed there in recent years.
Workplace conflicts have plagued the production of “Rust” since its launch in early October. In the hours leading up to filming, several members of the film crew left the set amid disagreement over working conditions, including safety procedures. A new crew was hired that morning, but filming was slow because there was only one camera, Souza told detectives.
At 24, Gutierrez Reed had little experience as a gunsmith. She told detectives that on the morning of the shooting, she checked the dummy bullets – bullets that look real, except for a small hole in the side of the case that identifies them as unusable – to make sure that ‘None were “hot,” according to a search warrant affidavit released Wednesday.
When the crew ate lunch, the guns used for filming were locked in a safe inside a large white truck where the props were kept, Gutierrez Reed said. The ammunition, however, was left unsecured on a cart. There was additional ammunition inside the propeller truck.
After lunch, the movie’s prop master Sarah Zachry removed the guns from the safe and handed them to Gutierrez Reed, Gutierrez Reed told investigators.
According to a search warrant affidavit released last Friday, Gutierrez Reed placed three guns on a cart outside the church, and Deputy Principal Dave Halls took one from the cart and handed it to Baldwin. The document released Wednesday indicates that the gunsmith sometimes handed the gun to Baldwin, and sometimes to Halls.
Gutierrez Reed declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday. She wrote in a text message on Monday that she was trying to find a lawyer.
However, Halls obtained the weapon before giving it to Baldwin, he failed to fully verify it. Normally, he told detectives, he would examine the barrel for obstructions and have Gutierrez Reed open the hatch and spin the drum where the bullets go, confirming that none of the cartridges are is alive.
This time, he reported, he only remembered three cartridges, and he couldn’t remember whether the gunsmith had spun the drum.
Nonetheless, he shouted “cold gun” to indicate that it was safe to use.
“He said he should have checked them all, but didn’t,” a Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Detective wrote in the affidavit released Wednesday.
It is not known if Baldwin deliberately pulled the trigger or if the pistol inadvertently detonated.
In the commotion after the shooting, Halls found the weapon – a black revolver made by an Italian company specializing in 19th-century reproductions – on a church pew.
He brought it to Gutierrez Reed and told him to open it so he could see what was inside. There were at least four dummy casings, with the small hole in the side, he told detectives.
There was an empty box. There was no hole.
Suggest a correction