Alec Baldwin Was Told Gun Was ‘Cold’ Before Movie Set Shooting

SANTA FE, N.M. — As a film crew and actors in Western garb prepared to rehearse a scene inside a wooden, chapel-like building on a desert movie ranch outside Santa Fe, assistant director Dave Halls stepped outside and grabbed a prop gun off a cart.

He walked back in and handed it to the film’s star, Alec Baldwin, assuring him it was safe to use because it didn’t have live ammo.

“Cold gun,” Halls yelled.

It wasn’t, according to court records made public Friday. Baldwin instead killed Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer, and injured Joel Souza (director), who stood behind her.
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Nearly three decades ago, Brandon Lee, the father of Bruce Lee’s martial arts icon, was killed in an identical case. This tragic incident prompted many questions regarding how such an event could happen again. The executive producer of ABC’s police drama “The Rookie” announced Friday the show would no longer use “live” weapons because the “safety of our cast and crew is too important.”

Details of the shooting at the ranch on Bonanza Creek Road were included in a search warrant application filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators were seeking to examine Baldwin’s blood-stained costume for the film “Rust,” as well as the weapon that was fired, other prop guns and ammunition, and any footage that might exist.

The gun was one of three that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being acted, according to the records. Halls pulled the gun off the cart, and took it to Baldwin. However, Halls was not aware that the gun had been loaded with live rounds. This detective stated in the warrant application.

The number of rounds fired is not known. Gutierrez took a casing off the gun following the shooting and handed it to police, according court records.

Halls did no immediate return email or phone calls seeking comment. Gutierrez was not reached by The Associated Press. Several messages were also sent to producers associated with the film, but they weren’t immediately returned.

The film’s script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, said she was standing next to Hutchins when she was shot.

“I ran out and called 911 and said ‘Bring everybody, send everybody,’ ” Mitchell told The Associated Press. “This woman is gone at the beginning of her career. She was an extraordinary, rare, very rare woman.”

Mitchell stated that Mitchell and her crew were at a private service in Santa Fe on Friday.

Baldwin described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

No immediate charges were filed, and sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said Baldwin was permitted to travel.

“He’s a free man,” Rios said.

Images of the 63-year-old actor — known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” — showed him distraught outside the sheriff’s office on Thursday.

Sometimes, guns used for movies can be real weapons. They are able to fire bullets or blanks. Blanks are gunpowder charge that produces a flash and bang without a deadly projectile. Hot gases, paper and plastic wadding can even be ejected from blanks. These can all prove deadly when used at close range. This was the case with the 1984 death of an actor.

Lee died in another accident on set in 1993 after a bullet fell from a prop gun. Similar shootings also occurred with stage guns loaded with live ammunition during historical reenactments.

Steven Hall is a British veteran photographer and director. He said that the most dangerous position to be in was behind the camera, as this person can get in the way of an actor pointing a gun at them.

Sheriff’s deputies responded about 2 p.m. to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls described a person being shot there, Rios said. The ranch has been used in dozens of films, including the recent Tom Hanks Western “News of the World.”

Hutchins, 42, worked as director of photography on the 2020 action film “Archenemy” starring Joe Manganiello. She was a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute and was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019.

“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” said “Archenemy” director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter. “She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”

Manganiello called Hutchins “an incredible talent” and “a great person” on his Instagram account. He stated that he is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her.

After the shooting, production was halted on “Rust.” The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. After being sentenced for accidental murder of a local rancher, the teen runs away with Baldwin’s grandfather.


Reporting by Gene Johnson, Gene Johnson, Walter Berry and Walter Berry from the Associated Press in Phoenix.


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