27 October 2021

Bullet suspected to have killed cinematographer recovered, Santa Fe sheriff says

27 October 2021

A “lead projectile” believed to have been fired from the gun used on the film set where a cinematographer was killed has been recovered,  the Santa Fe county sheriff has said.

Halyna Hutchins was killed last week after being accidentally shot by the actor Alec Baldwin on the set of Western movie Rust in New Mexico.

Director Joel Souza was also injured, though he is now recovering after leaving hospital.

Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer (Seth Wenig/AP) (AP)

Santa Fe county sheriff Adan Mendoza and Santa Fe district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies held a press conference on Wednesday and revealed a “lead projectile” was recovered from the director’s shoulder.

The projectile, “apparently the same round” that killed Hutchins, is suspected to be a live round, but sheriff Mendoza said that cannot be confirmed until it undergoes further testing.

About 500 rounds of ammunition have been recovered from the set, the sheriff said, adding it is still too early to say if criminal charges will be filed.

There was “some complacency” on the set, the sheriff said, but it is yet to be determined if there was negligence or by whom.

Ms Carmack-Altwies said a “complete and thorough investigation is critical” but “if the facts and evidence and law support charges then I will initiate prosecution at that time”.

Asked about Baldwin, the district attorney said “all options are on the table at this point”.

I'm not commenting on charges, whether they will be filed or not or on whom. We cannot answer that question yet until we complete a more thorough investigation. No-one has been ruled out at this point

She said: “I’m not commenting on charges, whether they will be filed or not or on whom.

“We cannot answer that question yet until we complete a more thorough investigation.

“No-one has been ruled out at this point.”

Baldwin, a prolific film and TV actor whose roles include Glengarry Glen Ross and 30 Rock, previously said he is heartbroken by the incident and is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Two people handled the revolver, described by the district attorney as an “antique-era appropriate gun”, before it was given to Baldwin, the sheriff said.

They were armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls, according to authorities.

They and Baldwin, who also served as a producer on the film, have been cooperative, the sheriff added.

The investigation into a fatal on-set shooting involving the actor Alec Baldwin is ongoing (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (AP)

Of the approximately 500 rounds found on set, they are thought to include dummies, blanks and suspected live rounds.

FBI experts will make the final determination but the sheriff said he suspects more live rounds will be confirmed.

He refused to speculate on how they could have come to be found on the set.

According to a newly released search warrant, Gutierrez-Reed said she checked the dummy rounds on the day of the shooting to ensure they were not live.

She told police guns used for filming were locked up during a crew lunch break but ammunition was left unsecured on a cart.

Following the shooting, Halls said he checked the gun and saw at least four of the five rounds were dummy bullets.

But a casing in the firearm did not have a cap to indicate it was a dummy, according to the warrant.

An assistant director handed Baldwin, 63, the firearm and shouted “cold gun”, indicating it was safe, court records show.

Police were called at about 2pm local time on October 21 to reports of a shooting on the set at Bonanza Creek Ranch.

Hutchins, 42, was a rising star cinematographer and her death has stunned Hollywood and launched an industry-wide debate on on-set safety.

Production on Rust has been paused while police investigate the incident and producers have reportedly opened an internal probe into the fatal shooting.

Experts have predicted a significant legal fallout.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox