Prosecutors knew early on that Rust shooting would lead to charges
New Mexico prosecutors say they knew ‘pretty close to the beginning’ that they would charge Alec Baldwin and armorer for fatal Rust shooting – and are confident of CONVICTIONS
- Alec Baldwin, producer and star of the Western film Rust, and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were told on Thursday they will be charged with manslaughter
- Gutierrez-Reed handed Baldwin a prop gun on the set in October 2021: he pointed the gun at camerawoman Halyna Hutchins, 42, and she was shot dead
- Prosecutors on Thursday told NBC News that they knew from very early in their investigation that criminal charges would be filed
- Baldwin in December 2021 told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that he had been told be his lawyers he was unlikely to be charged
- The prosecutors on Thursday said that no one was above the law, and said Baldwin was mistaken in insisting he did not pull the trigger
- Baldwin’s lawyers have called the charges ‘a terrible miscarriage of justice’ and said he cannot be held responsible for the props on set
Prosecutors in New Mexico said on Thursday that it was apparent from early on in their investigation that criminal charges would be filed against those involved in the Rust shooting.
Alec Baldwin, the producer of the Western and its star, was told on Thursday that he would be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was also informed that the Santa Fe district attorney was pressing charges against her, too. Both face two counts of involuntary manslaughter, and are facing a maximum of 18 months in prison if convicted.
If they are also convicted of a firearm enhancement, they will face a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
Andrea Reeb, a special prosecutor working on the Rust case, said on Thursday that they knew early on that criminal charges were likely following the October 2021 shooting
A distraught Alec Baldwin is seen in October 2021, outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, following the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins
Halyna Hutchins, a 42-year-old camerawoman and mother of a young son, was killed on set in October 2021 when Alec Baldwin pointed a prop gun at her, which went off
Hutchins’ October 19, 2021 Instagram post showed cast members and staffers, including Baldwin alongside Hutchins herself and armorer Gutierrez-Reed (circled left to right) on the set of Rust in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dave Halls, the assistant director, ‘has signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon,’ which will likely lead to six months of probation, prosecutors said. He has also agreed to testify for the state.
Prosecutors declined to say if they offered Baldwin a chance to plead guilty in exchange for his testimony.
Baldwin in December 2021 said his attorneys told him he was unlikely to face charges, but on Thursday the prosecutors said they knew ‘pretty close to the beginning’ of their probe that there was criminal liability.
Baldwin has always insisted it was a tragic accident, and he could not be held responsible for the October 2021 death of camerawoman Halyna Hutchins, 42.
He was handed a gun by Halls, which had been prepared by Gutierrez-Reed, and was told the gun was ‘cold’ – not loaded with live ammunition. Baldwin was rehearsing a scene and pointed the gun at Hutchins, which went off.
He has insisted he did not pull the trigger, but prosecutors said that was not consistent with a FBI report which found the gun would not fire without the trigger being pulled.
‘We felt very confident that it was going to be a criminal case pretty close to the beginning, once we started looking at everything,’ said special prosecutor Andrea Reeb.
Halls, an experienced assistant director, is pictured on the set of Rust, outside Santa Fe in New Mexico. He has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors
An aerial view of the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, where the movie was being filmed
She told NBC News they are confident they will win convictions in their case, despite Baldwin’s repeated insistence that he had done nothing wrong.
‘I’m sure he was confident he wasn’t going to get charged,’ Reeb added.
‘But he isn’t above the law and he is somebody who committed a crime, and we’re going to hold him to the law, hold him accountable.’
Reeb said that Baldwin was responsible both for overall conduct on the set, as a producer, and as the person who pointed the gun.
Baldwin is seen in costume, covered with fake blood, in an image posted to Instagram
‘It’s a little bit of both. He’s a producer. He’s on that set and he’s seen everything that’s happening,’ Reeb said.
‘The misfires on set, the way the gun was handed to him, he’s experienced. He understands what the proper protocol is for safety and he was just disregarding that.’
Mary Carmack-Altwies, the district attorney, also rejected Baldwin’s insistence that he had not pulled the trigger.
‘That’s not true and we know that from the FBI lab report,’ she told NBC.
‘That gun would not have fired without the trigger being pulled.
‘It’s possible that he didn’t know he pulled the trigger, that it was sort of an unconscious decision.
‘But we have videos of him where his hand was on the trigger and we know from the FBI report that he pulled that trigger.’
Reeb, in a Fox News interview, added: ‘Definitely the trigger was pulled.’
Alec Baldwin, 64, spoke to George Stephanopoulos for an interview which aired in December 2021, and insisted he did not pull the trigger and was not responsible for Hutchins’s death
Baldwin’s defense attorney, Luke Nikas, called the prosecution of his client a ‘terrible miscarriage of justice,’ while Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer called Hutchins’ death a ‘tragic accident.’
Carmack-Altwies said that, even though Hutchins’s death was not intentional, it did not mean there was no culpability.
‘Just because something’s an accident doesn’t mean it’s not criminal and that’s what we have here in this case,’ Carmack-Altwies said.
‘Because an accident that is not criminal is something that just happens because of an act of God.
‘But this was something that was more than mere negligence.
‘It’s people acting recklessly, people not doing their jobs, people not following safety protocols, not following safety standards and violating all of the standards that we all have to follow if we have a gun in our hands.’
SAG-AFTRA, the organization representing approximately 160,000 actors and other professional entertainers, objected to the charges.
‘The death of Halyna Hutchins is a tragedy, and all the more so because of its preventable nature. It is not a failure of duty or a criminal act on the part of any performer,’ the group said in a statement Thursday.
‘The prosecutor’s contention that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is wrong and uninformed.
‘An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert. Firearms are provided for their use under the guidance of multiple expert professionals directly responsible for the safe and accurate operation of that firearm.
‘In addition, the employer is always responsible for providing a safe work environment at all times, including hiring and supervising the work of professionals trained in weapons.’
Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins (center) died after being shot by Baldwin during a rehearsal on October 21, 2021 in New Mexico
The prosecutors admitted they may never solve the key question of how live rounds ended up on the set.
Gutierrez-Reed has suggested that the set was deliberately sabotaged by the man who supplied the ammunition, Seth Kenney – but Kenney has not been charged.
Kenney has emphasized that it was Gutierrez-Reed’s job to ensure the ammunition was not live.
Asked how the live ammunition ended up on set, Reeb replied: ‘Unfortunately, that may be a question we’re never going to be able to answer.
‘We’re focused on the issue that they did get on set – and that nobody caught it. None of these three individuals caught it.’
‘He’s supposed to check the guns, he’s responsible’: Panicked 911 calls from Alec Baldwin tragedy reveal how script supervisor blamed assistant director for death of cinematographer – but why did ANY of the guns have live ammo?
The audio recordings of 911 calls made by the crew of Alec Baldwin’s film Rust have revealed desperate attempts to save their colleague, and allegations of negligence.
Mamie Mitchell, the script supervisor of the film, made the call after Baldwin accidentally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, and director Joel Souza, 48.
The group were filming the Western film in the desert outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, when the tragedy happened on October 21.
In her call, Mitchell, a veteran script supervisor with credits dating back to 1974, points the finger at the assistant director, accusing him of negligence.
Mitchell calls 911 and tells the woman answering: ‘We need an ambulance out at Bonanza Creek Ranch right now. We have had two people accidentally shot on a movie set accidentally.’
While she is on the phone, Mitchell is instructing another person to ‘clear the road’ to allow the ambulance easy access to the site.
Mitchell is then transferred to the Santa Fe fire and EMS, and, sounding panicked, urges a swift response.
‘Bonanza Creek ranch. We have had two people accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun.
‘We need help immediately. Bonanza Creek ranch. Come on.’
David Halls is the Assistant Director of Rust, the Western movie Baldwin was acting in and producing when he accidentally killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza
The 911 operators then asks Mitchell for her details.
Mitchell, who has worked on films including No Country For Old Men, Sicario and 3:10 to Yuma, can be heard saying: ‘It sounds like somebody else is calling for ambulances.
‘Everybody should be. We need some help.
‘Our director and our camerawoman has been shot.’
She then asks someone on set: ‘Are they going to take him to the road?’
The 911 operator asks: ‘So, was it loaded with a real bullet or what?’
Mitchell replies: ‘I don’t, I cannot tell you that. We have two injuries from a movie gunshot.’
While the phone operator is inputting the details, Mitchell can be heard telling someone else: ‘OK, this f****** AD that yelled at me at lunch asking about revisions, this motherf*****.
‘Did you see him lean over my desk and yell at me? He’s supposed to check the guns. He’s responsible for what happened.’
According to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court, the gun was one of three that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, had set on a cart outside the wooden structure where a scene was being acted.
Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds, a detective wrote in the search warrant application.
It is not known whether Mitchell was referring Halls in the audio.
It was unclear how many rounds were fired. Gutierrez removed a shell casing from the gun after the shooting, and she turned the weapon over to police when they arrived, the court records say.
On the call, the 911 operator tries to ask Mitchell how many people were injured and, confused, Mitchell replies: ‘No, no, I’m a script supervisor.’
The operator asks again, and Mitchell says: ‘Two that I know of. I was sitting there rehearsing and it went off and I ran out. We all went out there, but doubled over the camerawoman and the director.’
She tells another person: ‘They are clearing the road, can you go back – back in the town, back in the Western camp.’
The operator asks if there is any serious bleeding, and Mitchell, flustered, hands the phone over to a man.
‘Hello?’ the man says.
‘Hi, I have a protocol of questions I need to ask. If you could answer them as best you can,’ the 911 operator says. ‘Are they completely alert?’
The man replies: ‘Yes, they are alert.’
The operator asks if the bleeding is controlled, and the man replies: ‘Let’s see if I’m allowed to get closer… No.’
It is unclear if he is saying that the bleeding is not controlled, or that he is not able to get closer.
‘We’ve got one laying down,’ he tells the operator, adding that they are near gate one and have a van ready to escort the ambulances quickly to the precise spot.
A devastated Baldwin is pictured bent over outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office after speaking to investigators
A woman then calls back saying: ‘Hi, I am calling back from Bonanza Creek Ranch. We actually need two ambulances not one.’
The operator replies: ‘OK, so we’re doing a call now for somebody else and we’ll get two up to you.’
The woman, her voice showing the strain, replies: ‘OK. And that’s 10 to 15 minutes?’
‘I don’t know – we’re getting them right now, to you now,’ the operator replies.
‘What? What?’ the woman says, sounding panicked as she speaks to someone else.
‘We have two ambulances heading your way.’
‘What?’ the woman says, then returns speaking to the operator: ‘OK, thank you.’
The operator replies: ‘You’re welcome, bye.’
Mitchell later 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 said she and other crew members were attending a private memorial service in Santa Fe.
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.
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