Alec Baldwin could still face charges for Rust shooting: ‘He fired the weapon’

Asked about the possibility Alec Baldwin will face charges, Sheriff Adan Mendoza said: ‘No one has been ruled out’

Megan Sheets
Wednesday 27 October 2021 17:49
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New Mexico authorities have not ruled out the possibility of multiple charges in Alec Baldwin’s fatal on-set shooting – including against the actor himself.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies offered their first public update on the case on Wednesday, nearly a week after Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of his film Rust, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Mr Mendoza said the gun used in the shooting had been handled by two people in addition to Baldwin: armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls.

The sheriff said it was too early to say whether criminal charges are warranted. “The investigation will continue, and if the sheriff’s office determines during our investigation a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed,” he said.

Asked about the possibility that Baldwin will face charges, Mr Mendoza said “No one has been ruled out” and noted: “He was the person who fired the weapon.”

Ms Carmack-Altwies then spoke to confirm that her office is ready to bring charges if the investigation finds sufficient evidence to do so.

“I must emphasise that a complete and thorough investigation is critical to the DA review,” she said. “We take the corroborated facts and evidence and connect it to New Mexico law, and we are not at that juncture yet.”

“If the facts in evidence and law support charges, then I will initiate prosecution at that time. I’m a prosecutor that was elected in part because I do not make rash decisions and I do not rush to judgment,” she added.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza offers an update on the Rust shooting investigation on Wednesday

Mr Mendoza said about 500 rounds of ammunition have been collected from the set, including the projectile which passed through Ms Hutchins before striking Mr Souza in the shoulder.

“I won’t comment further on how they got there,” the sheriff said of the ammunition. “This investigation is active, so I won’t comment on how they got there, but we suspect that they are there. That will be determined when testing is done by the crime lab in reference to whether or not they are officially live rounds or not.”

Mr Mendoza said there is still an ongoing investigation into how crew members obtained a gun with a live round and whether other live rounds were on the set.

“The people that inspected or handled the firearm when it was loaded before it got to Mr. Baldwin – we’re interviewing. And there [are] some followup questions that we need to do,” he said.

“We know there was one live round, as far as we’re concerned, on set. We’re going to determine whether we suspect that there were other live rounds, but that’s up to the testing. But right now, we’re going to determine how those got there, why they were there, because they shouldn’t have been there.”

In an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, Ms Carmack-Altwies said investigators were focusing on ballistics to determine what kind of round had killed Ms Hutchins and who had placed the ammunition in the gun.

She said a search warrant executed on the set of the Bonanza Creek Ranch found an “enormous amount of bullets on this set” as well as three revolvers, spent casings and ammunition.

“We need to find out what kinds they were,” she said.

Ms Carmack-Altwies said it would be “weeks, if not months, of follow-up investigation that we’re going to need to get to the point of charging.”

Baldwin fired the weapon on 21 October when he pointed it at the camera while practising a “cross draw” technique inside a church, according to a court affidavit.

The gun had been placed on a cart outside the church by Ms Gutierrez-Reed, the movie’s armourer, and was handed to Baldwin by Mr Halls, the assistant director.

Mr Halls said it was a “cold gun”, indicating it did not contain live rounds.

It later emerged that Mr Halls had been sacked from a film in 2019 after a prop gun accidentally fired on the set of the movie Freedom’s Path, injuring a crew member.

Ms Carmack-Altwies said investigators were still conducting interviews with witnesses to determine who could be at fault for the shooting.

Baldwin has said he is “fully cooperating” with the investigation and said his “heart is broken” for Ms Hutchins’ family.

The tragedy sparked a flood of calls to bolster regulation of firearms on movie sets, or even ban them and replace them with computer-generated images.

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