What went wrong on the ‘Rust’ movie set?

Morning In America

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) —Details are still being pieced together about what happened on the set of the film “Rust” that left a cinematographer dead and a director wounded.

An assistant director unwittingly handed movie star Alec Baldwin a loaded weapon and told him it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot a cinematographer, court records show.

The gun was loaded with live rounds, and when Baldwin pulled the trigger Thursday on the set of a Western, he killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, was wounded, the records said.

“There’s no circumstance ever where a live round ever should be introduced or anywhere near a movie set,” said weapons consultant Bryan W. Carpenter on Morning in America. “There are so many levels of safety protocol in place to avoid that from ever happening. It is hard to imagine that it made it out there and into a weapon that was handed to an actor.”

The gun was one of three that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, had set on a cart outside the wooden structure where a scene was being acted, according to the records. Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds, a detective wrote in the search warrant application.

Guns used in making movies are sometimes real weapons that can fire either bullets or blanks, which are gunpowder charges that produce a flash and a bang but no deadly projectile. Even blanks can eject hot gases and paper or plastic wadding from the barrel that can be lethal at close range.

“The difference between a true prop gun and a live gun is a prop gun that would be used for stunt work or rehearsals or anything of that nature is a rubber or plastic gun. That’s a true prop,” Carpenter said. “The guns that are used to fire blanks are real guns. They’re not a prop gun. They are just like any other weapon. Modern ones have different mechanics put inside of them that make them fall in. But an older one from a period piece like that is completely and utterly exactly like the real thing. It is the real thing.”

Carpenter said that there were various levels of safety steps that should prevent incidents like this from happening.

After the shooting, production was halted on “Rust.” The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.

Baldwin described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

A camera operator told authorities that Baldwin had been careful with weapons on set, according to court records released Sunday.

NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert spoke with Bryan W. Carpenter, a weapons consultant, on “Morning in America.” You can watch the full interview in the player above.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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