We’ve already reported on a lot of troubling information about the shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin’s movie ‘Rust’ that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded Director Joel Souza.
The last report from sources on the set indicated the crew had been using the prop gun that was involved in the tragedy for target shooting in off-hours and that live ammo had been stored in the same area as blanks. There was also a prior report about an incident with the armorer on another movie set. All those reports, if true, give an indication of how there could have been a mistake with the prop gun.
Now there’s more information that adds to the already troubling actions.
As we previously reported, the assistant director Dave Halls had picked up the prop gun from a cart where it was placed by the armorer. He handed it to Baldwin and declared it was “cold” meaning that it was safe to use and had no live rounds in it.
Bryan Carpenter, an armorer and weapons master in the film industry, told CNN that “cold guns” shouldn’t be loaded, especially during rehearsals. “You have to make sure that the weapon is truly cold, which means there should have been no rounds in there, period. And especially if it’s a rehearsal,” Carpenter told the outlet. Carpenter also insisted that prop guns should be inspected by two people to ensure they’re “cold” before anyone handles them on set.
We haven’t heard any comment yet on whether Halls checked the weapon or if Baldwin did.
But Halls had a prior complaint filed against him on a prior on the Hulu series “Into the Dark” in 2019 over concerns about his behavior and not following safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics. The complaint from crew member Maggie Goll said that he also tried to continue filming after a crew member had “slipped into a diabetic fugue state.”
“He did not maintain a safe working environment,” Goll said “Sets were almost always allowed to become increasingly claustrophobic, no established fire lanes, exits blocked … safety meetings were nonexistent.”
So that obviously raises a further question about the assistant director in addition to the question of whether he checked the gun before he handed it to Baldwin.
But that wasn’t all.
After Baldwin got the gun, he was in a church pew practicing a cross draw that required him to point the gun at the camera where Hutchins was, with the director standing behind her. Two witnesses related that to the police including the director who was injured. Souza told the police that he then heard a loud pop and realized he and Hutchins were bleeding. Souza said he’d heard the call that the gun was “cold” but he indicated that there was an interim period during which there was a lunch break and he didn’t know if the gun was checked after lunch before the incident happened.
Another witness, cameraman Reid Russell described what happened.
“[Russel] said while preparing, there was a shadow coming from the outside light and they had to move the camera at a different angle from Alec,” the warrant says.
“He said Alec was trying to explain how he was going to draw out the firearm and where his arm would be at when the firearm was pulled from the holster,” according to the warrant.
“[Russel] was not sure why the firearm was discharged and just remembered the loud bang from the firearm,” the document states.
A cross draw is when the gun is holstered on the opposite side of the drawing hand with the butt out – so if drawing with the right hand, the gun is holstered on the left. You can see a sample of what it looks like here. But it also means that then there could be more safety issues as you’re drawing it, sweeping across your body and if he was seated in a church pew that might make it challenging as well. Russell’s account also indicates a question as to why the gun fired.
As we indicated previously, there were reportedly three prior accidental firings on the set. In the description of one of those incidents, one source claimed that the gun was “just holding it in their hands and it went off” raising another question about what was going on with the guns there but also why this wasn’t addressed.