Police looking into the shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin’s film Rust have confirmed that the actor fired a “real bullet” from the gun that shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and are investigating rumours of on-set “target practice” using live ammunition.
Hutchins was killed after being shot in the chest when Mr Baldwin fired what should have been a prop gun. The bullet that killed Hutchins also struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder, leaving him in need of hospital treatment.
A bullet was recovered from Mr Souza’s shoulder, with police confirming at a press conference on Wednesday that they had found the lead projectile that struck and killed Hutchins. They also said spent casing and the gun had been found on set.
The gun that killed Hutchins was reportedly used by crew members for target practice, The Wrap reported, citing a source familiar with the set.
“I think there was some complacency on this set,” said Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza. “I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico, but I’ll leave that up to the industry and the state to determine what those need to be.”
The press conference, held by Sheriff Mendoza and New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies also revealed that authorities discovered at least 500 rounds on set – some of which were blanks and some of which were suspected live ammunition.
However, the sheriff refused to speculate about how many of those rounds were live or how they got onto the set.
“This investigation is active, so I won’t comment on how they got there, but we suspect that they are there,” he said. “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.”
He later added: “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.”
Following the shooting, sources have emerged with comments about the chaos on set – with a camera crew staging a walkout hours before the tragedy in protest at working conditions, and on another occasion Mr Baldwin’s stunt double reportedly fired two rounds of ammunition in an accident.
Police on Wednesday confirmed that a charge or charges could follow in their investigation, and that they hadn’t ruled out charging anyone involved in the shooting.