Police in New Mexico will probe ‘tensions’ on the Rust set that led to a walkout hours before the fatal shooting of the cinematographer and the wounding of the movie’s director, with the sheriff declaring that “there was complacency” towards weapon safety.
Around half a dozen crew members allegedly walked off the set of the movie on the morning of the shooting to protest working conditions on the low-budget western, according to reports.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza was asked about “tensions on the set” and reports of crew members allegedly drinking the night before the accident, which saw actor Alec Baldwin fire what he thought to be an unloaded prop gun, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
“I wont talk about specifics but we are aware of those rumours, or those statements that have been made, and we are going to do our best to track those down,” he told a Wednesday press conference in New Mexico.
The lawman said that there had been 90 people on the set of the movie and his investigators were still interviewing witnesses.
“There a lot of facts and rumours floating around and it is our job to figure out if they are facts or rumours,” he said.
He also announced that although there were obviously cameras on the set, there was no actual footage of the incident.
The sheriff told reporters that two of the three weapons on set for the fatal shooting of Ms Hutchins were non-functioning, and that Baldwin had been handling a working Pietta long Colt .45 revolver.
Sheriff Mendoza was then asked for his opinion of functioning weapons being handled on movie sets in his county.
“Obviously I think the industry has had a record recently of being safe, but I think there was some complacency on set, and I think that there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly the state of New Mexico,” he said.
He also said that his investigators believed that there had been other live rounds on set, and that they were still being tested by the crime lab.
Police have obtained 600 items of evidence, including the three weapons and 500 rounds of ammunition, which are a mix of blanks, dummy and live rounds, he said.
“The facts are clear. a weapon was handed to Mr Baldwin, the weapon was functional and it fired a live round killing Ms Hutchins and injuring Mr Souza,” he said.
“We know there was one live round on set, we suspect there were other live rounds but that is up to the testing. We are going to determine how they got there because as far as we are concerned they should not have been there.”
The sheriff described Baldwin as “cooperative” but said he did not know his physical whereabouts.
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