Alec Baldwin was unknowingly handed a loaded prop gun before the fatal shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza on the set of the upcoming western film Rust.
According to a warrant obtained by TMZ Friday, the cast and crew were reportedly inside a building at the Bonanza Creek Ranch when assistant director Dave Halls picked up one of three guns that the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, had placed on a rolling cart outside. When the assistant director grabbed the weapon and brought it inside to the 63-year-old actor, he had yelled “cold gun,” meaning that it was not loaded and safe to handle.
The warrant documents state that neither Baldwin nor Halls was aware that the gun was loaded with live ammunition, and it is unclear how many rounds were fired at this time. According to the Associated Press, Gutierrez-Reed did remove a shell casing from the gun following the shooting and turned it over to the police when they arrived on the scene. In the search warrant, police have also reportedly requested to gather costumes, footage, cameras, prop weapons, and ammunition.
The tragedy has since brought increased scrutiny on film set and gun safety. Just hours before the accident, The LA Times reported that a half-dozen unionized camera crew workers actually walked off the set due to the working conditions, with a source noting that there were three misfires from the gun since filming started. Rust Movie Productions later said in a statement to the publication about the set safety:
“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”
Innerestingly enough, the armorer, who was responsible for handling the weapons on the set, previously expressed doubts about taking the job because she wasn’t sure she was ready. According to TMZ, her work on the Nicholas Cage movie The Old Way before this gig marked her first time as a head armorer. In an eerie confession, Gutierrez-Reed told the Voices of the West podcast last month about :
“You know, I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready … but, doing it, like, it went really smoothly.”
Hannah also admitted that she found loading blanks into a gun “the scariest” thing because she didn’t know how to do it before seeking help from her father, a well-known Hollywood armorer Thell Reed.
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