The scene Alec Baldwin was rehearsing when he fatally shot Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust” did not even require a gunshot, according to charging documents.
Baldwin, 64, was charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Hutchins, the movie’s cinematographer who was shot dead at age 42 in October 2021.
Hutchins was shot while the crew was rehearsing a scene in which Baldwin’s character drew a revolver. However, “evidence indicates the scene/shot did not require the weapon to be fired,” police stated in court documents.
“It was also determined by consultation with expert armorers that in a rehearsal, a plastic gun or replica gun should be used as no firing of blanks is required.”
Baldwin faces up to five years in prison if convicted on the manslaughter charge. The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter and faces the same sentence.
Prosecutors and investigators described a “fast and loose” environment on the “Rust” set at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe. Prior to Hutchins’ death, there were two accidental firearm discharges, one by prop master Sarah Zachary and another by an unidentified stunt double.
Police eventually found six “live” .45-caliber rounds on the set. One had been used in the fatal shooting. A second was found on Baldwin’s holster. Three more were found on the armorer’s cart, and the sixth was handed to police by Gutierrez-Reed.
Gutierrez-Reed and her father, veteran Hollywood armorer Thell Reed, had suggested the live rounds came from PDQ Arms and Prop, a business in Albuquerque. However, investigators tested PDQ’s bullets and determined they didn’t match the live rounds found on set.
Baldwin has maintained his innocence throughout the case. Less than two months after the shooting, he claimed in a television interview that he never pulled the trigger.
The FBI disputed that claim, and their analysis of the firearm was also referenced in the charging docs. The feds couldn’t find any way to make the gun fire without pulling the trigger. Investigators said video from the scene showed Baldwin’s finger on the trigger.
According to the documents, when authorities first arrived on the scene, Baldwin approached them and told them he was the one who “fired” the gun. It was only later that he claimed it had simply “gone off,” police said.
Baldwin was also implicated as a producer of the film. Investigators pointed out that Gutierrez-Reed, though she came from a well-known family, had only worked as an armorer on one previous film. The investigators cited numerous examples of safety lapses on set. Those issues caused the film’s first-choice camera crew to walk out one day before the shooting.
Gutierrez-Reed in turn said that Baldwin didn’t pay attention during his firearms training. A planned 60-90 minute session lasted only about 30 minutes, as Baldwin was otherwise preoccupied on his phone, she claimed.
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys have called the investigation “very flawed” and said they expect her to be cleared.
Assistant Director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun and declared it “cold” seconds before the shooting, has agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon.
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