Moments Before Rust Shooting, Alec Baldwin Was Told His Gun Did Not Contain Live Rounds, Police Say

Court documents published Friday reveal the first official account of the shooting on the New Mexico set of “Rust.” They suggest that neither Baldwin nor the first assistant director were aware the gun contained a live round up until the moment Baldwin pulled the trigger, fatally wounding cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

The information, first published by the Santa Fe Reporter, comes from a search warrant affidavit that was obtained by the newspaper from a local court. Additionally, IndieWire has obtained the “Rust” call sheet from Thursday, the day of the shooting, that details the weapons that were on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set that day and the people who were responsible for gun safety on set.

The fatal shooting occurred during a rehearsal. In preparation, the armorer laid out three “prop guns” on a rolling cart. An assistant director grabbed one and handed it to Baldwin. The AD shouted “cold gun,” a signal understood to those on set to mean the gun did not contain ammunition.

The assistant director “did not know live rounds were in the prop-gun,” a Santa Fe County sheriff’s detective wrote in the affidavit. (“Prop” does not necessarily imply an imitation weapon, but is a descriptor that applies to any objects used by actors in their performances.)

Baldwin pulled the trigger, firing a shot that struck Hutchins in the chest and Souza in the shoulder, according to a summary of the events in the affidavit, a narrative that police constructed though witness statements.

After the shooting, the armorer took possession of the gun Baldwin fired, along with a spent casing. The armorer turned the gun over to detectives, who placed it in a squad car, along with other prop weapons and ammunition that had been on the rolling cart.

Baldwin changed out of his period consume and into his street clothes, giving his Western attire to investigators before leaving the ranch. He voluntarily went to the sheriff’s office after the shooting, according to unnamed sources cited by the Reporter.

The property department is responsible for all items handled by actors on set, including weapons. The “Rust” call sheet identifies, in addition to a prop master, a property key assistant/armorer, and a property assistant.

The ranch has been a popular filming location for Westerns dating back to the ‘50s, including “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid” and more recently “3:10 To Yuma.”

Photos taken Friday at the ranch show a church cordoned off with police tape. Thursday’s call sheet planned six scenes shot in or around the church, including a gunfight that breaks out inside the church while characters played by Baldwin, Brady Noon, Jensen Ackles, Swen Temmel, and Travis Hammer are inside.

Baldwin plays outlaw Harland Rust, who breaks his grandson out of jail after the teen is convicted of an accidental murder.

The call sheet lists a Colt used by Baldwin, as well as a Remington rifle and several other unspecified guns that were on set Thursday.

According to the Reporter, a judge on Friday signed off on the detective’s request to gather film, cameras, weapons and ammo (along with documentation of their ownership), clothing worn by Baldwin and others at the time of the shooting, equipment used to store video, cellphones of those on the scene, and photos of the building where Baldwin fired the shot.

Multiple reports published Friday paint a picture of a production that was deeply troubled ahead of the fatal shooting. Much of the camera crew had walked off the set sometime earlier in the week, or as Deadline reported, just hours before the fatal incident.

Allegations by unnamed sources quoted by Deadline include earlier incidents involving the misfiring of weapons, payment to crew that was delayed for three weeks, and a lack of covid safety. In a statement released by the film’s producers, they said they are launching their own inquiry.

“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation,” it reads.

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