Law enforcement authorities are scheduled to discuss initial findings about a fatal movie-set shooting with a prop gun discharged by actor Alec Baldwin that left a cinematographer dead and the director wounded.
Scheduled for Wednesday, the news conference by Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies promises the first detailed public comments by investigators about the killing of 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins during on-set rehearsal at a ranch outside Santa Fe.
The sequence of events on Oct. 20 has baffled Hollywood professionals and prompted calls to better regulate movie-set firearms or even ban them in the age of seamless computer-generated imagery.
Court records say that an assistant director, Dave Halls, grabbed the gun from a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating the weapon was safe by yelling “cold gun.” But it was loaded with live rounds, according to a written affidavit from a detective.
Baldwin, 63, who is known for his roles in “30 Rock,” “The Departed” and “The Hunt for Red October” along with impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” has described the killing as a “tragic accident.”
Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press prior to the news conference that the investigation is still in its early stages — well before decisions are made about whether or not to file criminal charges.
She said those involved in the production were cooperating with law enforcement and that prosecutors won’t fully review evidence until the completion of an initial investigation by the sheriff’s office.
The gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or “armorer,” had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.
Director Joel Souza who was standing behind Hutchins and was wounded, has told investigators there should never be live rounds present whatsoever near the scene.
Authorities have seized three black revolvers, gun belts with holsters, ammunition boxes, a fanny pack with ammunition, several spent casings and articles of clothing and swabs of what were believed to be blood.
The production of “Rust” has been beset by workplace disputes from the start in early October. Hours before the shooting, several camera crew members walked off the set amid discord over working conditions, including safety procedures.
Baldwin in his role as actor appeared unlikely to be held criminally or civilly liable for the tragedy. As a producer, however, he is among a long list of associates on the film who could face some sort of liability.
Concerns have been raised about Halls' safety record by colleagues on two previous productions. Halls has not returned phone calls and email messages seeking comment.
Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is cooperating with Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and conducting its own internal review of procedures with the production shut down.
Hutchins, the married mother of a 9-year-old boy, grew up on a remote Soviet military base and worked on documentary films in Eastern Europe before studying film in Los Angeles and embarking on a promising movie-making career.
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