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Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza has said there were likely “other live rounds” on the ‘Rust’ movie set, where actor Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer during filming.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Mendoza confirmed that Baldwin had fired a live round described as a “lead projectile” during filming last week in New Mexico. The sheriff added that officials suspected there were “other live rounds” on set, but wouldn’t speculate as to how they had made their way onto the set.
Mendoza said a police laboratory was currently examining all ammunition used in the production and interviewing those who had inspected or handled the firearm when it was loaded and before it was passed to Baldwin.
“Live rounds shouldn’t have been there,” the sheriff stressed. However, it was too early to determine whether any criminal charges would stem from the shooting, he added.
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The shooting occurred on October 21, causing the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Director Joel Souza was also injured, although he is now in a stable condition. In a prescient twist, the plot of the low-budget independent film on which the crew had been working centered on the aftermath of an accidental shooting.
Numerous reports have described the movie shoot in as having been plagued by both safety and resource issues. The competence of certain key crew members, such as assistant director Dave Halls, has also been called into question. Halls was fired from the production of ‘Freedom’s Path’ in 2019 for not maintaining a safe environment, after a gun was accidentally discharged, according to one of its producers.
The film’s armorer, 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was in charge of gun safety on the set. She, Halls, and Baldwin have all been interviewed by the police, the sheriff said on Tuesday.
Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told the New York Times this week that potential charges had not been “ruled out”, as investigators continue working to determine exactly what occurred.
The incident has led to numerous calls for real guns to be banned from movie sets, with some productions already actively doing so, among them the ABC series ‘The Rookie’.
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Baldwin, who is a producer on ‘Rust’, has been cooperating with investigators. He released a statement after the shooting in which he said his “heart is broken” for Hutchins’ family and friends – she was married and had a young child – and “there are no words to convey my shock and sadness.”
Production has been halted “at least” until investigations are complete, producers have told crew members.
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