Death on the film set: assistant director admits errors in weapon check

Dave Halls tells the police that he did not control all of the bullets in the revolver’s drum. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed by a “lead projectile”.

After Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin’s fatal shot at a camerawoman while filming, the assistant director admitted an error when checking the prop weapon. According to an interrogation report released on Wednesday, Dave Halls told police that he had not checked all the bullets in the revolver’s drum. There was apparently live ammunition in the weapon.

Cameraman Halyna Hutchins was killed by a “lead projectile”, according to police. Halls had handed Baldwin the Colt .45 before the fatal shot last week and spoke of a “cold gun”. This means a firearm that does not contain live ammunition and is therefore safe.

“Just remembered seeing three bullets”

The assistant director had apparently not checked the weapon sufficiently. “He could only remember seeing three bullets,” wrote an investigator in the interrogation protocol presented to the court. “He said he should have checked them all, but he didn’t, and couldn’t remember if she (armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed) was turning the drum.”

Baldwin had apparently accidentally shot the cameraman Hutchins while filming the western “Rust” last week when he was firing the prop weapon during a rehearsal. The 42-year-old died in hospital shortly after the incident. Director Joel Souza was hit in the shoulder and injured.

Sheriff Adan Mendoza said at a press conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Wednesday, that the revolver appeared to have a real bullet in it. Accordingly, a lead projectile was found in Souza’s shoulder – presumably the same projectile that killed Hutchins and then hit the director standing behind her. Further investigations should provide more details.

It is unclear how live ammunition got into the Colt. On the film set, the police seized 500 bullets, a “mixture” of blank cartridges, dummy cartridges and probably also real bullets, as Sheriff Mendoza said. “We’ll find out how they (the real bullets) got there, why they were there, because they shouldn’t have been there.” Apparently there was a certain “carelessness” on the film set.

Weapons stored in a safe on the set

Gunsmith Gutierrez-Reed told investigators, according to the interrogation protocol, that she had stored the guns on set in a safe during the lunch break before the accident, but not the ammunition. The 24-year-old also stated that real bullets were “never” kept on the film set. The industry website “The Wrap” had recently reported, however, that members of the film crew had only trained hours before the fatal incident with prop weapons and live ammunition on cans.

So far there have been no arrests or charges in the case. The responsible prosecutor Mary Carmack-Altwies did not rule out possible criminal proceedings against Baldwin or other parties on Wednesday.

“All options are currently on the table,” she said at the press conference at the side of Sheriff Mendoza. “At this point in time we are not excluding anyone.” A decision on a possible indictment will only be made at a later point in time, when the investigations have progressed further. However, legal experts consider it unlikely that Baldwin will face criminal consequences – even if consequences under civil law are possible, especially since Baldwin is also a producer.

According to media reports, there were already security problems during the shooting before the fatal incident. It was also recently announced that Halls’s assistant director had been fired from another production two years ago because of a gun accident.


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