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“Rust” deputy director tells investigators he should have checked the gun more carefully

“Rust” deputy director David Halls told authorities he should have checked in more detail the weapon used on set last week after noticing a difference in ammunition, according to a search warrant affidavit .

Halls told inquiries in an interview that he did not check every individual cartridge in the gun before handing it over to the gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, on the day cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died, according to the court document.

After the shooting, Halls brought the gun to Gutierrez-Reed and recalled seeing at least four “dummy” cartridge cases with the hole on the side and one without a hole, when she opened the gun, according to the interview with Halls. The cartridge without the hole did not have a “cap” and was only the housing, according to the warrant.

“David indicated that when Hannah showed him the gun before continuing the rehearsal, he only remembered three bullets,” the warrant affidavit said. “He said he should have checked them all, but he didn’t and couldn’t remember if she had the drum spinning.”

The cartridges recovered from the set include blank cartridges, dummy cartridges and what investigators suspect to be “live” cartridges.

In response to questions about safety protocols on set, Halls said he was instructed to yell “cold gun” indicating that the gun does not have live ammunition. He announced Thursday that it was a “cold gun,” letting everyone on set know the gun was safe.

Hutchins was killed almost a week ago when actor Alec Baldwin fired a Pietta Long Colt revolver during a rehearsal on the set of “Rust” in New Mexico. The incident also injured director Joel Souza, 48.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said Wednesday the gun on the set was functional and had fired live ammunition, wondering why there were live ammunition on the set.

“We will determine if, we suspect, there have been other live rounds,” he said. “We’re going to figure out how these got there, why they were there because they shouldn’t have been there.”

Close scrutiny has arisen regarding Gutierrez-Reed’s experience as a gunsmith on the set. Gutierrez-Reed, the daughter of Hollywood stuntman Thell Reed, was responsible for gun and gun safety on set.

She told investigators that “no actual ammunition is ever kept on the set,” according to the affidavit of the search warrant.

Halls ‘past experience with firearms was also brought to light after Hutchins’ death. He was fired from the movie “Freedom’s Path” in 2019 after a crew member was injured in a gun incident.

Maggie Goll, a special effects technician who worked on the set of a Hulu series with Halls in 2019, said he doesn’t maintain a safe working environment on set.

In a statement to NBC News on Monday, Goll said Halls did not hold a safety meeting or announce when a gun appeared on set. He also tried to continue filming after the main pyrotechnician in the series “Into the Dark” suffered a medical emergency, she said.

Halls did not respond to a request for comment on Goll’s remarks.

Production on “Rust” has been suspended until the investigation is completed, the film’s production team said in a letter to team members Sunday night.

It is not known whether criminal charges will be filed in the fatal crash. First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, whose office is reportedly pursuing a criminal case, said it remains to be seen whether the conditions set will meet the bar of criminal negligence.

His office is reviewing a range of charges, including a non-criminal charge of negligent use of a firearm. But the standard for a successful prosecution is much higher than the probable cause required to lay charges.

“To go all the way and try to prove that a person is criminally responsible takes beyond a reasonable doubt, and it is an exceptionally high burden – as it should be – under our constitution,” Carmack-Altwies said. “So that’s one of the reasons we have to take it step by step very carefully. Because we don’t want to wrongly charge someone or wrongly charge someone.”

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