Investigators had found 600 pieces of evidence during the search of the filming location, including three weapons and ammunition. The investigations continued, District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said. It is too early to decide on a possible charge. Everyone involved, including Baldwin, would cooperate with the police. “We haven’t ruled out anything yet,” Carmack-Altwies was quoted as saying on Tuesday by the New York Times. “At this point everything, including criminal charges, is on the table.”
The public prosecutor made it clear that, according to previous knowledge, this was not just a “prop gun”, i.e. a prop weapon that only resembles real weapons. The terminology used in some of the court documents relating to the case is misleading because it is a real pistol. “It was a real gun,” said Carmack-Altwies. She didn’t say exactly what kind of firearm it was, but described it as an ancient weapon that went with the era in which the film is set. The western “Rust” is set in the 19th century.
In the incident during the filming of the western “Rust” on a film ranch in New Mexico, the 42-year-old head camerawoman Halyna Hutchins was fatally injured last Thursday. Leading actor Baldwin (63) had fired the gun during the rehearsal for a scene. According to a police report, the assistant director told the actor when he handed over the pistol that it was a “cold weapon” without ammunition. According to his own statement, the assistant did not know that there was a cartridge in the weapon.
Director Joel Souza (48) was injured in the shoulder in the incident, but was able to leave the hospital a little later. Souza was behind the camerawoman at the time of the fatal incident. Filming for the western has been suspended. Film weapons expert and stunt coordinator Steve Wolf told CNN that a regular prop weapon cannot be loaded with live ammunition. The cartridges did not fit in, he added and demonstrated this with a prop revolver.
Carmack-Altwies said the investigation could take weeks or months before a possible charge could arise. There were “large amounts” of ammunition on the set, said the prosecutor of the “New York Times”. According to the police, three revolvers, used cartridges and ammunition were found in boxes, loose and in a belt pouch during the search of the filming location.
The assistant director who handed over the gun to Baldwin was dismissed in 2019 because of a similar incident in a film, reported numerous US media. When shooting “Freedom’s Path”, a sound technician was slightly injured after a prop gun went off unexpectedly, it said, citing the production company of the film. According to media reports, criticism was also raised against the 24-year-old weapons master, who was responsible for the proper handling of all weapons on the set. “Rust” was only the second film she was involved in in this capacity.
Suspicions of lax security were also supported by a report from the news site “The Wrap” that some crew members allegedly used live ammunition to shoot beer cans in their spare time. The sources were not named. Accordingly, such a target shooting would have taken place in the morning, a few hours before the fatal incident on the set, said “The Wrap” journalist Sharon Waxman the broadcaster CNN. One of these weapons was later passed on to Baldwin on the set.
Film weapons expert Wolf told the broadcaster: “They didn’t load prop weapons, they loaded real weapons and shot them. Then they used the same real weapons on set as their prop weapons. ” In his opinion, this was the problem.