(NewsNation Now) — Since the fatal shooting involving Alec Baldwin on the “Rust” movie set, crew members have come forward pinpointing underlying issues that may have led to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Oct. 21.
Disputes in the production of the Western film began almost from the start in early October.
An anonymous staffer said a gun, in the hands of a stuntman, misfired on set.
“The gun just went off in his hand right in front of me and my co-worker,” the crewmember told “People.” “And then everybody in the crowd was, like, ‘Oooh.’ I mean, and I’m, like, is that real, you know, did that happen? It’s scary. You know, like, is it going to explode in his hand and lose his fingers?”
In the hours before the shooting, several camera crew members walked off the set amid discord over working conditions, including safety procedures and a long commute back to their hotels. A new crew was hired that morning, but filming was slow because they were down to one camera, Souza told detectives.
The production, now behind schedule, rushed along.
Moments before shooting
Assistant director Dave Halls allegedly unwittingly handed Baldwin a loaded weapon.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Halls called out “cold gun” to indicate that it was safe to use but told detectives he did not check all of the weapon’s chambers.
Souza peered over the shoulder of Hutchins to look at what the camera was capturing.
Souza heard what sounded like a whip followed by a loud pop, he would later tell investigators.
Suddenly, Hutchins was complaining about her stomach, grabbing her midsection and stumbling backward, saying she couldn’t feel her legs.
Souza saw that she was bloodied, and that he was bleeding, too: The lead from Baldwin’s gun had pierced Hutchins and embedded in his shoulder.
A medic began trying to save Hutchins as people streamed out of the building and called 911. There was no ambulance on set.
“We were rehearsing and it went off and I ran out, we all ran out,” said Mamie Mitchell, the “Rust” script supervisor. “They were doubled over, the AD and the camerawoman and the director.”
Hutchins’ longtime friend and the gaffer on “Rust,” Serge Svetnoy, described the moment in a Facebook post.
“I was holding her in my arms while she was dying,” Svetnoy wrote. “Her blood was on my hands.”
Responders flew Hutchins in a helicopter to a hospital, to no avail.
Hours after the shooting
An emotionally distraught Baldwin is seen crying, with his hands on his knees, outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.
The next day he expressed “shock and sadness” in a statement via Twitter.
Less than one week later
During an Oct. 27 news conference, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said there was “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the set. Investigators found 500 rounds of ammunition — a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what appeared to be live rounds, even though the set’s firearms specialist, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, said there should never have been real ammo present.
“It’s the fault of negligence and unprofessionalism,” Svetnoy said. “The negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it.”
The investigation is ongoing.
After staying quiet for much of the first week after the shooting, Baldwin recently posted several screenshots on Instagram defending the integrity of the production, and before that spoke with a camera crew that was following him in Vermont.
“I’m not allowed to make any comments because it’s an ongoing investigation,” he told the crew in Vermont. “I’ve been ordered by the sheriff’s department in Santa Fe.”
As an actor, Baldwin’s probably not going to be held criminally liable. But as a producer on the movie, he could be in trouble.
“Ultimately, the question is going to be what Alec Baldwin knew about the people he was hiring,” defense attorney Cynthia Armijo said on “Dan Abrams Live.”
Although the warrant revealed Halls admitted he didn’t remember fully checking the gun for live ammunition, his lawyer says he shouldn’t be to blame.
“Expecting an assistant director to check a firearm is like telling the assistant director to check the camera angle or telling the assistant director to check sound or lighting; that’s not the assistant director’s job,” attorney Lisa Torrace said. “If he chooses to check the firearm because he wants to make sure that everyone is safe, he can do that. But that’s not his responsibility.”
People who worked with Halls on previous movies have aired doubts about his safety record since the “Rust” shooting. Halls had been fired from a 2019 production after a gun went off on a set and wounded a member of the film crew, a producer on the project said.
Halls did release a statement to the New York Post, saying says he hopes the tragedy prompts the film industry to “reevaluate its values and practices” to ensure no one is harmed again.
Gutierrez Reed’s response
The 24-year-old armorer, in only her second major production, said the guns were always locked up, but the blanks and dummy rounds were often left out.
Attorneys representing her suggested Wednesday that someone may have put a live round in the set’s dummy round stash to intentionally “sabotage” the set.
“Never in a million years did Hannah think that live rounds could have been in the ‘dummy’ round box,” attorney Jason Bowles said in a statement Thursday. “Who put those in there and why is the central question. No one could have anticipated or thought that someone would introduce live rounds into this set.”
Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys say the FBI will be critical in determining who put that live round into the gun. They believe it will be federal forensic and ballistic science that will ultimately crack this case open.