Full of righteous declarations of innocence, the outspoken liberal actor and producer of the film Rust is off to whereabouts unknown after accidentally killing a crew member on set in New Mexico. Although no charges have been filed, Alec Baldwin is seemingly distancing himself from the Land of Enchantment.
On Wednesday, Oct. 27, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza held a press conference, telling reporters: “It is too early right now in the investigation to comment on charges.”
Baldwin fired the Pietta long colt 45 revolver towards cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was behind the camera. She was killed, and one of the cast directors, Joel Souza, was injured.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies also reminded that the actor is “an active part of this investigation.” Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza added: “Generally, he has been cooperative.” Law-and-order professionals have stated that criminal charges are still on the table and could include Baldwin, depending on where the evidence and witness statements lead.
The First Scene
On-set troubles were abundant in the remote location. Before the incident, cast and crew brought concerns about safety – especially the handling of firearms – to the forefront, only for their words to fall on seemingly deaf ears. The staff complained of horrid accommodations, late hours, and safety issues, prompting a walk-out prior to the shooting. In addition, misfires were reported – and there doesn’t seem to have been any firearm instruction or orientation beforehand.
Armory expert Bryan W. Carpenter is speaking out on the Baldwin tragedy, claiming irresponsibility is an alarming trend in Hollywood: “There’s no reason a live round should ever be within any distance of a movie set. The primary role of an armorer on the set is to maintain the safety of the firearms being used. That’s the most important thing.”
And that did not happen. Instead, only three people handled the gun that day: Baldwin, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and assistant director David Halls. Halls has had prior complaints leveled against him over the lack of safety protocols on his sets. Now, authorities say that Halls admitted he only “remembers” seeing three rounds in the Colt and should have checked the gun. Once the weapon is checked for possible problems, Halls said that’s when they hand the weapon over for the scene and declare it a “cold” gun, meaning there is no live ammunition.
That’s a term that is also under fire. Avid gun users do not typically refer to firearms as “cold” or “hot.” Even actress Kirstie Alley weighed in on the swirling controversy and ensuing blame game:
“No Assistant Director yells, ‘COLD GUN.’ The armorer or prop person is supposed to PERSONALLY show you the gun so you can see it is empty for yourself. Then I dry fire it into the ground. I have NEVER been handed a gun by an AD & I’ve been handed 100 guns & I’ve never heard ‘COLD’ gun in 40 years.”
Who Is Left holding The Colt 45?
Both Mr. Baldwin, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, and Mr. Halls have a lot of explaining to do. Halls has a sketchy reputation on set safety, having already had a weapon unexpectedly discharge and injure a sound crew member and the armorer. Gutierrez-Reed has only one previous job acting as the head armorer. Baldwin is the producer, the star, and knew of the accidental discharges previously reported.
Carpenter doubled down the lack of follow-through for the set, saying: “If you think you’ve checked too much, check again. No one touches those weapons or uses them for anything else. The weapons only come out of the safe when it’s time to use them for a scene.” All simple instructions and protocols that most folks who do shoot for sport or personal protection already follow.
~ Read more from Sarah Cowgill.