Sunday, December 5, 2021

How live ammunition got to the set is still a mystery in Baldwin’s shootings.

SANTA FE, New Mexico (AP) – Light from the high afternoon sun shone through the tall windows of a weathered wooden church, hitting plank floorboards, and illuminated stained glass windows. Outside, the arid land of the northern foothills of New Mexico stretched for miles, a scenic Wild West shootout.

Actor Alec Baldwin, gaunt with a white beard and vintage clothes as he played a wounded character named Harlan Rust, sat on a bench pondering how to stretch a Colt .45 long-barreled revolver through his body and point it toward the movie camera.

The team prepared the shot after adjusting the camera angle to account for shadows. The camera hasn’t rotated yet, but director Joel Sousa looked over the shoulder of cinematographer Galina Hutchins to see what she saw.

Souza heard the sound of a whip, followed by a loud bang, he later told investigators.

All of a sudden, Hutchins started complaining about her belly, grabbing her belly and stumbling, saying that she couldn’t feel her legs. Sousa saw that she was covered in blood, and that he, too, was bleeding: the lead from Baldwin’s gun pierced Hutchins and stuck in his shoulder.

The medic began trying to save Hutchins when people rushed out of the building and called the emergency services. Lighting specialist Serge Svetnoy said he held her while she died, her hands covered in blood. Rescuers took Hutchins by helicopter to the hospital, but to no avail.

A week after filming Rust on October 21, accounts and images released in court documents, interviews and social media posts reflect much of what happened during the tragedy, but they have yet to answer a key question. : how live ammunition ended up in the real weapon used as the mainstay of the film, despite the precautions that should have been taken to prevent it.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said there was “some complacency” about how to handle guns on set. Investigators found 500 rounds – a mixture of blanks, empty cartridges and ammunition that looked like live ammunition, although firearms specialist, gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed stated that real cartridges should never have been there.

“Obviously, I think the industry has been showing a high level of security lately,” Mendoza said. “I think there was some complacency in this set, and I think there are some security issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly the state of New Mexico.”

Mike Tristano, a veteran of cinematic weapons, called it “terrible” that live rounds were mixed with blanks and blanks.

“In over 600 films and TV shows that I have filmed, we have never had a live performance,” said Tristano.

The shooting took place at Bonanza Creek Ranch, a sprawling estate that bills itself as “the place where the Old West comes to life.” More than 130 films have been filmed there, starting with Jimmy Stewart’s 1955 “The Man from Laramie”. More recent films include 3:10 to Yuma, Cowboys and Aliens, and the Lone Dove miniseries. Tom Hanks’ Western “World News” and “The Trail of Return” starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman have been filmed there in recent years.

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Workplace controversy has plagued Rust’s production since its launch in early October. Hours before filming began, several crew members left the set due to disagreements over working conditions, including safety regulations. A new team was hired this morning, but filming was slow because there was only one camera, Sousa told detectives.

At 24, Gutierrez Reed had no experience as a gunsmith. She told the detectives that on the morning of the shooting, she checked the dummy bullets – bullets that appear to be real except for a small hole on the side of the case that identifies them as inoperative – to make sure none of them were “hot.” … The search warrant’s affidavit went public on Wednesday.

When the film crew took a break for lunch, the weapons used for filming were locked in a safe inside a large white truck where the props were kept, Gutierrez Reed said. However, the ammunition remained unsecured on the cart. There was additional ammunition inside the propeller-driven truck.

After lunch, the film’s main prop Sarah Zakri took the pistols out of the safe and handed them to Gutierrez Reed, Gutierrez Reed told investigators.

According to an affidavit with a search warrant released last Friday, Gutierrez Reed planted three pistols on a cart outside the church, while Assistant Director Dave Halls took one of the carts and handed it to Baldwin. A document released Wednesday said the gunsmith sometimes passed the pistol over to Baldwin and sometimes to Halls.

Gutierrez Reed declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday. On Monday, she wrote in a text message that she was trying to find a lawyer.

However, Halls received the weapon before handing it over to Baldwin, and he was unable to fully test it. Usually, he told detectives, he inspects the barrel for obstacles and forces Gutierrez Reed to open the hatch and rotate the drum where the bullets are going, confirming that none of the cartridges are live.

This time, he said, he could only remember three rounds and did not remember if the gunsmith was turning the drum.

However, he shouted “cold steel” to show that it was safe to use.

“He advised me to check them all, but he didn’t,” the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s detective wrote in an affidavit released Wednesday.

It is unclear whether Baldwin pulled the trigger on purpose or the pistol fired accidentally.

In the confusion after the shooting, Halls found a weapon – a black revolver made by an Italian company specializing in 19th-century reproductions – on a pew.

He brought it to Gutierrez Reed and told her to open it so he could see what was inside. According to him, there were at least four empty casings with a small hole on the side.

There was one empty cartridge case. There was no hole in it.

___

Montaya Brian reported from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Johnson from Seattle. Associated Press writer Cedar Attanasio of Santa Fe, New Mexico contributed.

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