Man who handed Baldwin loaded gun breaks silence

A sign points to the entrance of the Bonanza Creek Ranch where the film “rust” was filming, on October 29, 2021 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. – With a surge in demand for new content stretching productions thinner than ever, some film sets are under intense pressure to cut corners to just “get it done,” industry insiders said in the wake of the “Rust” tragedy. The low-budget Western on which Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, in a tragic accident last week was running behind schedule after crew members walked off the New Mexico set in protest over low pay and poor conditions. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)


LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — The crew member who handed Alec Baldwin the loaded gun that killed a cinematographer on the set of “Rust” expressed his shock and sadness Monday, in his first public comments since the tragedy.

David Halls’ role in the accident on the New Mexico set of a 19th-century Western last month has been under scrutiny after he told police he had failed to fully check the firearm before the fatal incident.

In a statement to the New York Post on Monday, Halls said he is “shocked and saddened” by the death of Halyna Hutchins, but did not directly address the shooting or his role.


ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO – OCTOBER 23: Photos of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins are displayed before a vigil held to honor her at Albuquerque Civic Plaza on October 23, 2021 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hutchins was killed on set while filming the movie “Rust” at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 21, 2021. The film’s star and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm that hit Hutchins and director Joel Souza. Sam Wasson/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Sam Wasson / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

“Halyna Hutchins was not just one of the most talented people I’ve worked with, but also a friend,” wrote Halls.

“It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to re-evaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again,” he added.

Along with armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director Halls was responsible for handling and checking weapons on set, and announcing “cold gun” — industry lingo for an inert firearm.

According to a search warrant, he told detectives he “should have checked” that all the rounds in the Colt .45 gun were dummy, or inert, rounds, “but didn’t.”

A live round fired by Baldwin during rehearsal passed through Halyna Hutchins’ body and struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder. Hutchins later died of her injury.


(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 12, 2019 actor Alec Baldwin attends the ‘Exploring the Arts’ 20th anniversary Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. – US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement officers said October 21, 2021.
The incident happened on the set of “Rust” in the southwestern US state, where Baldwin is playing the lead in a 19th-century western. No charges have been filed over the incident, which is being investigated. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

Nearly 100,000 people have since signed a petition to permanently remove firearms from sets, noting that effects such as the loud bang and muzzle flash can easily be added to fake rubber guns in post-production.

In his statement, Halls also said he had been “overwhelmed by the love and support,” and wrote, “My thoughts are with all who knew and loved Halyna.”

Halls’ lawyer did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment.

His statement came two days after Baldwin’s own first public comments on the incident, in which he told reporters that the tragedy was a “one in a trillion episode.”

The US actor said he had been advised not to speak directly about the shooting due to the ongoing police investigation.

Prosecutors have refused to rule out criminal charges over the deadly shooting.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said live rounds “shouldn’t have been” present, and said it appeared “there was some complacency on this set.”

His comments were reinforced by an NBC report that a member of the “Rust” camera crew resigned the day before the shooting, citing significant safety concerns surrounding firearms and explosives on set.

Camera assistant Lane Luper said in his resignation email to producers that safety procedures for filming gunfights were “fast and loose.”

“So far there have been 2 accidental weapons discharges and 1 accidental SFX explosives that have gone off around the crew between takes,” Luper wrote in the email, according to NBC. “To be clear there are NO safety meetings these days.”

© Agence France-Presse