Alec Baldwin fired suspected lead projectile in fatal 'Rust' shooting, sheriff says

Investigators believe they have recovered bullet believed to have killed cinematographer

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Actor Alec Baldwin fired the suspected lead projectile that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded another person on the set of the film Rust last week, New Mexico Sheriff Adan Mendoza said on Wednesday.

Speaking alongside Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, Mr Mendoza said investigators believed they have recovered the lead projectile that Baldwin fired. The projectile is suspected to be a live round, but that cannot be confirmed until further testing is done.

Mr Mendoza said the gun used in the shooting was a Long Colt revolver.

“It's a suspected live round that was fired but it did fire from the weapon and it did cause injury. That would lead us to believe it was a live round,” he said.

Baldwin has been co-operative in the investigation, Mr Mendoza said.

“He's obviously the person that fired the weapon,” Mendoza said. “Right now, he is an active part of this investigation.”

In a tweet last week, Baldwin offered his condolences and support to Hutchins's husband and family.

Ms Carmack-Altwies said it is too early to discuss charges, but said the investigation has not yet concluded. She said investigators cannot say whether the shooting was committed due to negligence or who was at fault.

“It will take many more facts, corroborated facts, before we can get to that criminal negligence standard,” she said.

Authorities also recovered 500 rounds of ammunition — a mix of blanks, dummies and live rounds — while searching the set of the Western film.

Two other guns were seized, including a single-action revolver that may have been modified and a plastic gun that was described as a revolver, officials said.

“We suspect that there were other live rounds, but that’s up to the testing. But right now, we’re going to determine how those got there, why they were there, because they shouldn’t have been,” Mr Mendoza said.

The sheriff said he thought the film set “showed some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the set.

Investigators said they planned to follow up on reports of other incidents involving guns on the set.

The film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, said she checked the dummy bullets on the day of the shooting to ensure that none were “hot” rounds. She also told a detective that while the guns used for filming were locked up during a crew lunch break, ammunition was left on a cart unsecured, a search warrant released on Wednesday before the press conference showed.

Ms Gutierrez Reed told a detective that no live ammunition was ever kept on the set.

Court records show that assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating the weapon was safe by yelling “cold gun”, but it was loaded with live rounds, a written affidavit from a detective said.

The production company for Rust has said it is co-operating with Santa Fe authorities in their investigation.

The film's producers have hired the law firm Jenner & Block to investigate the shooting, Reuters reported.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: October 28, 2021, 7:05 AM