Crime & Justice

Authorities believe real ammo was mixed with blanks on Baldwin film set

Los Angeles, Oct 27 (EFE).- Authorities in New Mexico’s Santa Fe County – in examining the case in which actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that accidentally killed the photography director of his latest film “Rust,” Halyna Hutchins – have found about 500 rounds of ammunition on the movie set, among which they believe are real bullets mixed in with dummy rounds and blanks.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza was extremely cautious in his remarks at a Wednesday press conference at which he confirmed that authorities had secured the weapon and the bullet that killed Hutchins on the set of the western last Thursday.

The pistol, a Colt 45 revolver, is one of the almost 600 items that authorities confiscated after inspecting the studio, where they found the roughly 500 rounds of ammunition that Mendoza described as a mixture of dummy rounds and blanks, but which experts suspect could also include live rounds.

At this point in the investigation, Santa Fe County authorities are not drawing any conclusions about the events surrounding the fatal shooting and are considering all possible scenarios, including the implication that someone involved in the filming might have put the live round in the gun on purpose.

But in answering questions from the press about Baldwin’s potential legal responsibility in Hutchins’ death, the sheriff would say only that while it is “too early right now in the investigation to comment on charges, the investigation will continue and if the Sheriff’s Office determines … a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed. Otherwise, we will complete our investigation and forward the full investigation and evidence to the district attorney for review.”

The only confirmation authorities have made so far is that the revolver that Baldwin apparently was practicing with when he fired the fatal shot from it has been seized along with two other weapons, one modified so that it cannot fire live ammunition and another plastic one.

But on Thursday afternoon, Baldwin was given the real revolver that was loaded with at least one live round before rehearsing for a scene in which he had to point it at the camera being manned by Hutchins, and when he pulled the trigger the live round fired, killing her and wounding the film’s director, Joel Souza, in the shoulder.

It has been determined that the gun was in the possession of two other people before it got to Baldwin: Dave Halls, the assistant director, and Hanna Gutierrez Reed, the film’s armorer.

Sheriff Mendoza said that when there are weapons around, security must be extreme to ensure that accidents do not occur.

He added that, in any case, Baldwin and everyone else have been cooperating with the investigation.

Meanwhile, Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis said that she is ready to file charges if the investigation determines that they are warranted, but she emphasized that she does not want to make any decision under pressure.

“I do not make rash decisions and I do not rush to judgment,” she said, adding that “All options are on the table at this point” in terms of possible prosecution and “no one has been ruled out.”

As the official investigation proceeds, other details have become publicly known about the case including the fact that the assistant who handed the pistol to Baldwin was fired from another film in 2019 for a similar incident with a pistol that, fortunately, did not wound anyone.

Statements by members of the film crew working on “Rust” have described a rather unstable working environment in which protests were mounting and as a result of which half a dozen members of the crew had quit earlier on the day of the fatal accident.

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