New Details of Negligence Emerge About Deadly Shooting on Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ Movie Set

New Details of Negligence Emerge About Deadly Shooting on Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ Movie Set
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

It was the shot heard ’round the world on October 21 of 2021, when actor Alec Baldwin shot and killed cinemaphotographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western film “Rust.” According to Baldwin, he did not pull the trigger and the shooting was an accident. Director Joel Souza was also injured, suffering wounds to his shoulder.

Now, it’s revealed that prop master Sarah Zachary found live rounds in the prop cart in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

In an interview with Santa Fe County Sheriff’s investigators, Zachary said:

I went over to the cart because I had a suspicion of what happened, um and or, not what happened, but like you know to see if there were any other live rounds in the box that she pulled from. I started shaking the rounds and I found a few more in it.

She explained what happened in the moments following the shooting:

I heard the shot go off and I heard Joel scream. Then the gunshot went off, that’s when I all the sudden saw Hannah in front of it. She turned around and said this wasn’t supposed to happen my whole career is ruined.

“Hannah” is 24-year-old armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of guns on the set. While one can empathsize with her shock in the moment, it’s still pretty cold-blooded to worry about your career before you even know if anyone died.

It’s hard to understand how this could have happened at all.

The level of negligence here is staggering, and it’s unclear how the live rounds got there in the first place. Was it an accident, or was something more sinister afoot?

A friend of mine is a 30-year special effects veteran and pyrotechnician, and he has questions:

Did the prop house supply dummy rounds?

If they did, did they they accidentally mix some live rounds in the dummies?

The crew reportedly used the same gun that killed Hutchins for target practice just days before—were the live rounds left over from that?

We know there was negligence on somebody’s part—we just don’t know who.

“What we need from the press that we’re not getting,” he says, “is a chain of custody of the actual round that was fired. Where did that round come from? That is the crucial question.”

Movie sets that involve guns have highly-trained armorers that should be inspecting the guns at every instance they’re touched. Whenever a gun is to be fired in a scene—with blanks, mind you—the assistant director will yell, “fire in the hole!” to the entire cast and crew before the scene is shot. Whenever possible, directors will avoid having actors point guns directly at each other. (Blanks actually have gunpowder in them, but they don’t have projectiles.)

What’s more alarming, gun mishaps had happened before on this production. Zachary told investigators that there were two other times on set that guns were misfired. “The stunt double accidentally discharged the Henry Rifle,” Zachary said. “I don’t know how because he was inside of a cabin. No one else was in there.”

It seems safety was not a priority on the low-budget set. Prop master Zachary says that assistant director Dave Halls never posted safety bulletins and that safety meetings “hardly happened.”

“I think we only actually had a safety meeting once or twice and I was just going over the initial of, or what guns we would use for that set,” Zachary said.

The fallout over the tragedy continues, as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Friday that script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, who was standing next to Halyna Hutchins when she was shot, can seek punitive damages from some of the producers.

Mitchell’s lawyers alleged the defendants “intentionally undertook a low-budget and cost-cutting scheme that was known to create unsafe conditions for movie production crews that resulted in moving defendants’ failure to ensure basic safety protocols with respect to the hazardous use of firearms.”

The family of the late cinemaphotographer has also filed a wrongful death suit against Baldwin and the film’s producers.

Meanwhile, no charges have been filed in the case. But Halyna Hutchins, who had a family and promising career in front of her, is dead. It’s clear that she’s gone because of the staggering negligence and the willful ignoring of basic safety protocols. Having live rounds on a movie set is verboten, and someone must be held accountable.

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