Details continue to emerge weeks after the accidental shooting involving actor Alec Baldwin in Albuquerque, New Mexico, bringing new questions to light.
What we know is that on Oct. 21, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally wounded on the set of Baldwin’s movie “Rust” after the actor pointed a “prop gun” at the camera lens and fired. Director Joel Souza was also wounded.
We know that after preparing the set that morning, including checking props, there was a break for lunch, and everyone was shuttled off set for food. What is not clear is whether props, including the Colt .45 revolver used by Baldwin, were checked upon returning from lunch, although some accounts vary on the safety check of the gun.
We also know, according to reports, that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed presumably checked the gun before handing it to Assistant Director Dave Halls, who then presumably checked it before handing it to Baldwin. We also know that Souza told investigators that he heard someone say “cold gun” before hearing a “pop.”
According to new reports, Souza told authorities that a camera crew had quit that morning and a new crew would have to come in, leaving only one camera to work with. Whether this has any bearing on the accident remains to be seen but we do know that somebody died and there needs to be accountability from every individual involved.
Investigators reported finding a combination of live rounds and blanks on the scene, leaving many to question why there would be live rounds on a movie set to begin with. There have also been reports that both Hall and Gutierrez-Reed had previous issues concerning safety on other sets. There was a previous complaint about the armorer from the set of a Nicolas Cage movie, “The Old Way,” where she allegedly gave a loaded gun to an 11-year-old actress without properly checking it, causing Cage to storm off the set.
One would assume the responsibility begins with the armorer, but everyone involved in handling the set should be held accountable. We have to ask who was responsible for bringing in props to the movie set. Who was responsible for ensuring the inventory of props matched the prop list and nothing out of the ordinary was present? Who was responsible for creating the prop list and were live rounds included in that list? If live rounds were included on that list, why were they? If all those questions check out, then question those involved with ensuring proper gun handling and safety.
From the point that Gutierrez-Reed handled the gun to the point where Hutchins’ life was tragically ended, all procedures for safety protocol on this set are highly questionable. Did the armorer show the assistant director the gun was clear before handing it to him and did he confirm? That detail is not clear. Did the assistant director show Baldwin that the gun was clear before handing it to him and did Baldwin confirm? This detail is not likely except that the words “cold gun” were heard prior to the fatal shot. Gun handling 101: 1. Always keep the muzzle in a safe direction. Baldwin pointed directly at the camera, reportedly to practice the stunt, something he could have easily done away from anyone. 2. Assume the firearm is ALWAYS loaded. Baldwin appeared to take someone else’s word that it was a “cold gun.” 3. Keep your finger off the trigger. Baldwin obviously did not follow this rule. Another rule is always ensure a firearm is not loaded when handing it to someone else and be sure that the chamber, barrel and action are clear before changing