Joel Souza, the director of "Rust," said cast and crew of the in-production Western film had been told that a gun being used by Alec Baldwin did not contain any live rounds, an affidavit reveals.
The New York Times obtained the affidavit, which also implies that necessary precautions weren't taken by on-set firearm safety experts before Alec — who was rehearsing a scene that involved cross drawing and pointing a firearm at the camera — fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Joel, who was also injured during the Oct. 21 incident, spoke to investigators, indicating that everyone on set believed Alec was holding a "cold gun" — one that doesn't contain a live round — before the accidental shooting.
In the most detailed account yet of what happened on the New Mexico set that day, Joel told investigators that prop guns were typically checked by the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, and then checked again by Dave Halls, the assistant director, who would then hand them to the actors. There is almost always a precise sequence when handling guns on film sets, industry experts said, but an unnamed "Rust" producer alleged the handling sequence was eschewed as both Hannah and Dave handed guns to actors.
The affidavit reveals that the assistant director grabbed the revolver from a tray that had been set up by Hannah. Dave then handed the gun to Alec and shouted, "cold gun." After that, Alec started explaining how he was going to draw the gun. As he pulled it out from the holster, the firearm discharged, a cameraman told investigators, adding that the actor was "very careful" with the firearm. Still, tragedy struck.
"Joel stated there should never be live rounds whatsoever, near or around the scene," Santa Fe County Sheriff Detective Joel Cano writes in the affidavit.
Joel said the fatal incident occurred after the cast and crew returned from a lunch break and he was "not sure" if the firearms had been checked for live rounds as they prepared for the scene. Alec was simply rehearsing when Joel heard something that "sounded like a whip and then loud pop." He then looked at Halyna, who grabbed her midsection and stumbled backwards. She told crew members she couldn't feel her legs. (He also noticed he was bleeding from the shoulder.)
Halyna was later pronounced dead at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The detective outlines in the affidavit that there had been a labor dispute between producers and crew members before the incident. On the day of the incident, Joel had been dealing with delays after roughly six members of the camera crew quit due to late pay and safety conditions, the affidavit says. Joel and producers scrambled and got a new crew together. Joel, though, told the detective that "everyone was getting along" and that there had been "no altercations" to his knowledge.
Because the crew was setting up for the scene and merely rehearsing, Joel said, the fatal incident was not filmed.
On Oct. 24, a candlelight vigil was held in Halyna's honor in Burbank, California.