Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' shooting ruled an accident — but FBI report says he did pull trigger

The actor has always maintained the revolver went off by itself

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The fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin was an accident, authorities have ruled.

A report from the Office of the Medical Investigator in New Mexico, the US, was released on Monday, along with numerous others from the FBI regarding the tragic killing of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Western film Rust last year.

Despite Baldwin's adamant assertions he was only holding the gun when it went off, an investigation by the criminal bureau ruled the only way it could have fired was if the trigger was pulled.

However, prosecutors have not yet decided if any charges will be filed in the case, saying they would review the latest reports and are awaiting mobile phone data from Baldwin’s attorneys.

Baldwin was pointing a gun at Hutchins when it went off on October 21, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. They had been inside a small church while setting up a scene for filming.

It is unclear how much, if any, weight the medical investigator's report will have with the district attorney's office. However, Baldwin's legal team say it is further proof it was a "tragic accident".

“This is the third time the New Mexico authorities have found Baldwin had no authority or knowledge of the allegedly unsafe conditions on the set, that he was told by the person in charge of safety on the set the gun was ‘cold’ and believed the gun was safe,” attorney Luke Nikas said.

In December, Baldwin told ABC News how he was pointing the cocked gun at Hutchins at her instruction on the set of the Western film when it went off. He said he did not pull the trigger.

The FBI's analysis of the revolver Baldwin had in his hand during the rehearsal suggested it was in working order at the time and would not have discharged unless it was fully cocked and the trigger was pulled.

With the hammer in full cock position, the FBI report stated the gun could not be made to fire without pulling the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional.

During the testing of the gun by the FBI, authorities said portions of the gun’s trigger sear and cylinder stop fractured while the hammer was struck. That allowed the hammer to fall and the firing pin to detonate the primer.

“This was the only successful discharge during this testing and it was attributed to the fracture of internal components, not the failure of the firearm or safety mechanisms,” the report stated.

It was unclear from the FBI report how many times the revolver’s hammer may have been struck during the testing.

Baldwin, who also was a producer on the movie Rust, has previously said the gun should not have been loaded for the rehearsal.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the film set of 'Rust', in Burbank, Los Angeles, in October 2021. Reuters

Among the ammunition seized from the film location were live rounds found on a cart and in a holster, which was in the building where the shooting happened. Blank and dummy cartridges also were found.

Previous reports detailed a catalogue of failings on set including violation of safety protocols, concerns by crew members going unheeded and weapons specialists being prevented from providing additional safety training.

In reaching its conclusion that the shooting was an accident, the medical investigator’s office pointed to “the absence of obvious intent to cause harm or death” and stated there was said “no compelling demonstration” the revolver was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on the set.

Updated: August 16, 2022, 7:02 AM
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