Alec Baldwin shooting: Rust assistant director breaks silence to call for safety changes on sets

Assistant director David Halls releases a statement days after police confirmed he handed Baldwin the loaded gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

Megan Sheets
Monday 01 November 2021 19:56
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<p>Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust </p>

Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust

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The Rust assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin the loaded gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has broken his silence about the tragedy, to demand changes to safety on film sets.

David Halls issued a statement about the 21 October shooting on Monday, saying: “Halyna Hutchins was not just one of the most talented people I’ve worked with, but also a friend. I’m shocked and saddened by her death.

“It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again.”

Mr Halls’ first public comments came days after police identified him as one of four people who touched the firearm that Mr Baldwin accidentally discharged on set, killing Ms Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

An affidavit filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court last week revealed Mr Halls told investigators he did not check all the rounds in the gun barrel to ensure they were all fake bullets before he handed it to Mr Baldwin and said “cold gun”, indicating that it did not have any ammunition.

He said that when Rust armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed “showed him” the gun later used by Mr Baldwin “before continuing rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds”, a detective wrote in the affidavit.

Mr Halls “advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t and couldn’t recall” if Ms Gutierrez-Reed “spun the drum”, the detective wrote.

Asked about safety procedures regarding guns, Mr Halls said: “I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there’s no live fire.”

He added that Ms Gutierrez-Reed “opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say ‘cold gun’ on set.”

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said during a press conference last week that the prop gun was a .45 Long Colt with a live round in the drum. He said a “lead projectile” appeared to have passed through Ms Hutchins before it was embedded in the shoulder of Mr Souza.

Investigators are still working to determine how the live round ended up on set and who placed it in the firearm.

The affidavit filed last Wednesday said that Ms Gutierrez-Reed told authorities that on the day the shooting occurred, she examined the “dummies” and “ensured they were not ‘hot’ rounds.” When the film crew took a break for lunch, the weapons were “secured inside a safe on the ‘prop truck’”.

“During lunch, [Ms Gutierrez-Reed] stated the ammo was left on a cart on the set, not secured,” the affidavit stated.

Ms Gutierrez-Reed told detectives that following the break for lunch, Sarah Zachary, a member of the crew, “pulled the firearms out of the safe inside the truck, and handed them to her”.

She said only a small number of people knew the combination to access the safe.

“During the course of filming, Hannah advised she handed the gun to Alec Baldwin a couple [of] times, and also handed it to David Halls,” the affidavit stated. “When Affiant (the person filing the affidavit) asked about live ammo on set, Hannah responded no live ammo is ever kept on set.”

Mr Halls joined a mountain of calls to overhaul safety on movie sets, particularly when it comes to firearms. His statement Monday was first reported by the New York Post.

In a statement via her attorneys, Ms Gutierrez-Reed suggested that the Rust producers, including Mr Baldwin, are responsible for the “unsafe” set and claimed her repeated requests for more training and safety meetings were ignored.

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