More details about the fatal accident on the Rust set have emerged.
On Wednesday, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office held a press conference on their findings in the case so far, as well as released a third search warrant from the set. This warrant included interviews with two of the embattled crew members involved in the incident: Dave Halls, the first AD (assistant director) who reportedly has a history of creating unsafe work environments, and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the young and inexperienced armorer who has had her own safety issues in the past.
The affidavit explained:
“During an interview with David Halls, when Affiant asked David about the safety protocol on set in regards to firearms, he advised, ‘I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there’s no live fire, she [Hannah] opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set.’”
However, he revealed:
“[When] Hannah showed him the firearm before continuing rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum.”
Wow. So Halls has already admitted his negligence. Those safety protocols were in place for a reason, and not following them had an unimaginable cost.
Following the shooting that injured director Joel Souza and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Halls told police:
“Affiant learned after the gun was fired, David Halls picked up the firearm from a pew inside the church, and took it to the Armorer (Hannah Gutierrez). Hannah then was told to ‘open’ the gun so he could see what was inside. David advised he could only remember seeing at least four ‘dummy’ casings with the hole on the side, and one without the hole. He advised this round did not have the ‘cap’ on it and was just the casing. David advised the incident was not a deliberate act.”
As for the armorer’s interview:
“Hannah advised on the day of the incident, she checked the ‘dummies’ and ensured they were not ‘hot’ rounds. Affiant also learned as the crew broke for lunch, the firearms were taken back and secured inside a safe on a ‘prop truck’ on set. During lunch, she stated the ammo was left on a cart on the set, not secured. … Hannah stated after lunch, [prop master] Sarah Zachary pulled the firearms out of the safe inside the truck, and handed them to her. She advised there are only a few people that have access and the combination to the safe. During the course of filming, Hannah advised she handed the gun to Alec Baldwin a couple times, and also handed it to David Halls.”
“When Affiant asked about live ammo, Hannah responded no live ammo is ever kept on set.”
Despite the 24-year-old’s assertion about live ammo, Sheriff Adan Mendoza revealed in Wednesday’s press conference that law enforcement had discovered “500 rounds of ammunition … a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting are live rounds.” He shared that a “lead projectile” was recovered from Souza’s shoulder, and that the fatal bullet was a “suspected live round” until proven otherwise “by the crime lab.”
Though it seems true that this shooting wasn’t a “deliberate act,” the numerous safety issues that led up to this — starting with hiring people who were inexperienced or had a record of violations, through the crew walkout, to not checking the rounds in the gun — have painted an all-too-clear picture of how this fatal accident could have occurred. We hope the industry responds accordingly so that this never happens again.
Our thoughts continue to be with Halyna’s loved ones during this difficult time.
[Image via MEGA/WENN & TODAY/YouTube]