the law

Gun in Fatal Rust Shooting Was Thought to Be ‘Cold’

The chapel where the shooting occurred on Bonanza Creek Ranch, the set of Rust. Photo: Jae C Hong/AP/Shutterstock

The gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on set of the film Rust was declared to be “cold” before the scene, per new documents in the investigation by the Santa Fe County sheriff’s office. A signed affidavit from Detective Joel Cano, obtained by Vulture, outlined the moments around the shootingin which Alec Baldwin, the film’s star, “discharged” a gun, also injuring director Joel Souza — in further detail. The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, had prepared a cart with three “prop” guns (further details around which have yet to be released) outside the chapel on the grounds of the Bonanza Creek Ranch set. The assistant director, Dave Halls, picked up a gun to bring to Baldwin inside the chapel, where they were rehearsing a scene. Halls “did not know live rounds were in the prop-gun, when he had given the prop gun to” Baldwin, per the affidavit. When he handed the gun to Baldwin, he shouted, “Cold gun!” to announce it was not loaded with live rounds; Souza, the director, confirmed that the gun was indicated to be cold.

Per Cano’s interview with Souza, Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved him “cross drawing his weapon and pointing the revolver towards the camera lens” while sitting in one of the church pews. The team had taken a lunch break while working on the scene, and after they returned to the set, Souza was “not sure if the firearm was checked again,” Cano writes in the affidavit. Ahead of the shooting, Souza “was looking over the shoulder of [Hutchins], when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop,” Cano continues. The affidavit also references an interview with Reid Russell, a camera-crew worker who was standing near Hutchins and Souza at the time. Russell also did not know if the gun was rechecked after the crew’s lunch break, although he left the scene for five minutes. Per Russell, the crew had to move the camera due to a shadow in the chapel, and Baldwin was demonstrating how he would pull the gun from the holster in the scene. Cano says Russell “was not sure why the firearm was discharged and just remembered the loud bang.” Souza said the crew had not been filming at the time of the shooting.

The affidavit additionally confirms details first reported by the Los Angeles Times — that six members of the camera crew walked off the set earlier in the day in protest of work conditions. A replacement crew had been hired, and “everyone was getting along,” according to Souza. However, the affidavit does not address the Times’ reporting that there had been multiple prop-gun misfires in the days leading up to the shooting. (Rust’s production company previously told Vulture it was “not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set.”) The affidavit’s outlining of Halls’s role in the incident also follows Consequence’s reporting on the assistant director’s alleged disregard for safety protocols on past sets. One source, identified as Jay, recalled Halls asking, “Do we need to do a safety meeting?” on a previous set where he was assistant director, while another anonymous source said she had previously filed two safety complaints against Halls.

Meanwhile, Rust’s gaffer, Serge Svetnoy, recounted the shooting in a Facebook post on October 24. Svetnoy wrote that he “was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Halyna” at the time, and “was holding her in my arms while she was dying.” He went on to claim the shooting was “the fault of negligence and unprofessionalism.” Svetnoy wrote, “The person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it.” He also criticized the film’s producers: “To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job, and you risk the lives of the other people who are close and your lives as well.”

As the police investigation continues, the Rust team reiterated its intentions to pause production in a letter sent to crew on October 24, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film’s production company previously announced it would pause production to comply with the investigation as well as conduct its own, and the new letter reportedly stressed that the break would be a “pause rather than an end.”

Gun in Fatal Rust Shooting Was Thought to Be ‘Cold’