SANTA FE, N.M. — The assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin the revolver that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins admitted that he “should have checked” all of the rounds inside the barrel before the fatal shooting but didn’t — and he “couldn’t recall” if the production’s armorer adhered to a key safety protocol, new documents reveal.
“Rust” assistant director David Halls told police the production’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, showed him the firearm before he handed it to Baldwin moments before the fatal incident on the Santa Fe, New Mexico, production, according to a search warrant affidavit released Wednesday in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court.
“David advised when Hannah showed him the firearm before continuing rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum,” detectives wrote in the affidavit.
When asked about the safety protocols on set in regards to firearms, Hall told police the armorer “spins the drum” and checks to ensure there are no live rounds before handing it off.
“I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there’s no live fire, [Hannah] opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set,” Halls told authorities, referring to a production term that means that the firearm doesn’t contain live rounds and is safe for rehearsal.
Gutierrez was also interviewed by police, but how closely she checked the gun before handing it to Halls isn’t clear in the affidavit.
“Hannah advised on the day of the incident, she checked the ‘dummies’ and ensured they were not ‘hot’ rounds,” the document states.
“Hannah advised she handed the gun to Alec Baldwin a couple times, and also handed it to David Halls. When [a detective] asked about live ammo on set, Hannah responded no live ammo is ever kept on set.”
But during a press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Adan Mendoza said about 500 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the set, including a “mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting [to be] live rounds.”
“We have recovered what we believe to be possible additional live rounds on set,” Mendoza told reporters.
“Right now, we’re going to determine how those got there, why they were there, because they shouldn’t have been there.”
At the time of the shooting, Baldwin was sitting in a church pew practicing a “cross draw” that required pointing the revolver directly at the camera when the firearm went off, striking Hutchins in the chest and injuring director Joel Souza, 48.
After the round struck the two crew members, Halls picked up the gun from the pew where Baldwin was sitting and handed it to Gutierrez.
The rookie armorer was told to “open” the gun so Halls could see what was inside and he recalled seeing at least four “dummy” casings with the hole on the side, “and one without the hole,” the affidavit said.
“He advised this round did not have the ‘cap’ on it and was just the casing. David advised the incident was not a deliberate act.”
No charges have been filed related to the incident.
The latest search warrant affidavit granted authorities the right to search a white “prop vehicle” where firearms and ammo were stored on the production.
According to the search warrant, when the crew broke for lunch the day of the shooting, the firearms were secured in the prop truck but during lunch, Gutierrez told police the ammo “was left on a cart on the set, not secured,” the document states.
During Wednesday’s press briefing, the first since the incident, both Mendoza and Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said it is too early to determine if criminal charges will be filed but it is clear there were issues on set.
“I think there was some complacency on this set and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico but I’ll leave that up to the industry and the state,” Mendoza said.
When asked about reported allegations that Halls and Gutierrez had previously ignored gun safety protocols on other movie sets, Mendoza and Carmack-Altwies said that will factor into the investigation and urged people with information to come forward.
“We are going to follow up on some of those statements that are made that there were other incidents, we definitely want to speak to anybody that has any information in reference to safety issues on previous sets or whether there were other issues and we would encourage them to call the sheriff’s office,” Mendoza said.
“That is something that will play into our legal analysis when we get the completed investigation from the sheriff’s department,” Carmack-Altwies added.
“It could obviously play into whether charges get filed or not.”