The latest on the "Rust" movie set shooting investigation

By Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes

Updated 7:47 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021
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10:07 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

CNN confirms district attorney won't rule out criminal charges in fatal shooting on "Rust" set

From CNN’s Josh Campbell

The Santa Fe County district attorney is not ruling out criminal charges in the fatal shooting on the "Rust" set, a district attorney spokesperson confirms to CNN, noting the incident remains under active investigation. 

News of the ongoing potential for criminal charges was first reported on Tuesday by the New York Times following a phone interview with District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies. 

In the interview, Carmack-Altwies said the term “prop gun” is misleading and that the gun that killed Halyna Hutchins was a “legit gun,” describing it as an “antique-era appropriate gun.”

According to the report, Carmack-Altwies said the investigation is focusing on ballistics to determine what kind of rounds were used, and who placed them in the gun fired by Alec Baldwin.

“There were an enormous amount of bullets on this set, and we need to find out what kinds they were,” Carmack-Altwies was quoted as saying.

The district attorney also said that news reports that crew members were using guns with live ammunition for target practice hours before the fatal shooting occurred were “unconfirmed.”

The district attorney is expected to participate in a news conference with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office scheduled for Wednesday morning.

9:28 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

"Rust" actor says crew and cameras were protected by "shields" during his shooting scene 

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

"Rust" actor Ian A. Hudson, in his first principal role on a big film, playing an outlaw who is shot by sheriffs, described “shields” in place to protect the crew and cameras during the shootout scene, but admitted feeling exposed as a performer.

Hudson said in an interview with TMZ, he “held [his] tongue” but noted that veteran actors were double and triple checking weapons given to them by the armorer to ensure they were “cold or hot,” shorthand on set for empty or loaded with a live round that could be a bullet or a blank.

“Multiple blank rounds were fired at me over multiple takes. I felt pieces of the blanks hitting my body & my face. I felt the the [sic] heavy thud of air from the shotgun blanks hit me in the chest. I've been reassured that this is normal one too many times,” Hudson said in an Instagram post.

In the TMZ interview, Hudson explains the existential impact filming the scenes had on him, describing them as “intense,” and “scary, and real.”

“Having been shot at multiple times and faking my death for the camera was enlightening to me in all the wrong ways. It was life threatening, it felt too surreal,” he said.

“I think the armorer, having been pressed for time as much as she was, was doing a fantastic job,” Hudson told TMZ. “In fact I even overheard Joel Souza, the director, praise her for being as safe as she was and as consistent, and speedy, too, keeping up with the rushed schedule.”

Blaming the industry as a whole, Hudson said some things are still being done “the same way they did it then, 30 years ago,” when actor Brandon Lee was killed during the filming of “The Crow.”

“This tragedy could have been avoided,” Hudson wrote in his Instagram post. “I feel as if I literally dodged a bullet. I'm shaken, selfishly, afraid and humbled, grateful to be alive.”

CNN has reached out to Hudson, but his manager said he is declining further interviews at this time.

The movie’s producers said in a statement released to the media Friday it was not aware of prop safety issues prior to the fatal shooting. 

"The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. 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 and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time,” Rust Movie Productions LLC said.  

On Monday, a source close to the production told CNN "When it comes to safety there were three full safety meetings held since they started production — and they had a full safety meeting the day of the accident," adding "This notion that no one was addressing safety from Covid protocols to weapons on set and procedures is not true. These are not 5 minute (meetings)."

9:23 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Assistant director on "Rust" was fired from previous movie after a gun incident

From CNN’s Julia Vargas Jones

Dave Halls
Dave Halls (IMDB)

The assistant director on the movie “Rust,” who handed a prop gun to Alec Baldwin before the fatal shooting last week, was previously fired from a film production after a gun incident injured a crew member, the movie’s production company told CNN.

Dave Halls was serving as assistant director on the film “Freedom’s Path” in 2019, when a gun “unexpectedly discharged” on set, causing a sound crew member to recoil from the blast, halting production, the production company Rocket Soul Studios said Monday.

The sound crew member was evaluated by an on-set medic and advised to seek medical treatment. The crew member returned to the production a few days later, Rocket Soul said.

Following the incident, Halls was removed from the set and fired from the production, the company said.

“Halls was removed from set immediately after the prop gun discharged. Production did not resume filming until Dave was off site. An incident report was taken and filed at that time,” it said.

“Upon wrapping production for the day, Dave Halls was officially terminated and given the specific reasons for his termination,” The company continued. “Dave was very remorseful for the events, and understood the reasons he was being terminated. A new assistant director as well as a new armorer were hired for the duration of principal photography. Production of the film finished successfully.”

When reached by CNN, the sound crew member did not want to comment on the matter. Halls could not be reached for comment.

9:19 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Production on "Rust" has been paused indefinitely following shooting

From CNN's Chloe Melas

Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Saturday, October 23.
Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Saturday, October 23. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

In a letter to the cast and crew of "Rust" sent Sunday, the production team behind the project announced it would pause work on the New Mexico set of the movie "at least until the investigations are complete."

"Our hearts are with all of you, as we all go through this tragic time and mourn the loss of our colleague and dear friend, Halyna Hutchins," the letter from The Rust Production Team — obtained by CNN — began. "We are family and we must stand beside each other as families do in difficult times. We remain in close touch with Halyna’s family and commend the strength they show in the face of unspeakable tragedy. It is beyond an inspiration." 

The production team said they are cooperating with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office investigation and conducting an internal review of safety protocols. 

"As we go through this crisis, we have made the decision to wrap the set at least until the investigations are complete," the letter stated. "Although our hearts are broken, and it is hard to see beyond the horizon, this is, at the moment, a pause rather than an end. The spirit that brought us all to this special place remains."

Grief support resources for the cast and crew were also shared in the letter, and the production team announced they will be making a donation to the Halyna Hutchins Scholarship Fund established by her family.

9:13 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Ammunition was found in a fanny pack on the "Rust" set

From CNN’s Josh Campbell, Kim Berryman and Kay Jones

The inventory list filed by detectives from the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department shows nine spent casings, three revolvers and ammunition – both in boxes and loose around the set –were seized on Oct. 22 from the “Rust” set. 

According to court documents obtained by CNN, a fanny pack with ammunition was among the items seized along with two ammo boxes with ammo and loose ammo from a tray.

Detectives also took 14 swabs of suspected blood, court documents show. 

Additional items seized include several different pieces of clothing, two brown leather belts with holsters, a brown leather gun belt and photographs.

The items were taken from what was described in the warrant as a “wooden fixed structure” with a pitched roof with a cross on it. 


8:57 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

No complaints of unsafe conditions on the "Rust" set were sent to the state's safety bureau

From CNN’s Kay Jones

There were no complaints of unsafe conditions on the “Rust” set sent to the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) in New Mexico, according to an email sent to CNN from the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). 

Rebecca Roose, Deputy Cabinet Secretary of Administration for NMED, also said in the email that the agency does not do routine inspections of film sets but does inspections when a tip or complaint is received at the office. 

A spokesperson for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham tells CNN in an email that personnel from OHSB is on site today investigating. 

NMED said in a news release on Friday that they were informed by the New Mexico Film Office of the shooting on the set that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyne Hutchins and injury to director Joel Souza. The production company reported the fatality and injury on Thursday night, “in accordance with workplace safety laws,” the release says.

OHSB’s investigation is ongoing and information will be released once that investigation is complete, the release states. 

Gov. Lujan Grisham said in a statement that her “full expectation is that the film and television industry will, at the conclusion of the investigation into this tragic incident and once all the facts are in hand, bring forward comprehensive new safety protocols to ensure this kind of incident never, ever happens again.”

She said that if that doesn’t happen, the state will “take immediate action” to ensure the safety of everyone on all film and television sets throughout New Mexico.

“This industry is important to us economically and to so many workers throughout New Mexico, and I look forward to a full accounting of how this could have possibly happened, and we will determine our next steps from there,” she said.

Read the full statement from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham below: 

"Workplace safety in any and every industry in New Mexico is absolutely paramount. A workplace death is never acceptable and must compel an analysis of what can and should be done better. My full expectation is that the film and television industry will, at the conclusion of the investigation into this tragic incident and once all the facts are in hand, bring forward comprehensive new safety protocols to ensure this kind of incident never, ever happens again. If that sort of comprehensive new approach does not materialize, the state of New Mexico will take immediate action, throughout whatever means are available to us, to ensure the safety of all personnel on all film and television sets here in our state. This industry is important to us economically and to so many workers throughout New Mexico, and I look forward to a full accounting of how this could have possibly happened, and we will determine our next steps from there."
9:02 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on "Rust" movie set

From CNN's Sara Spary

Halyna Hutchins and Alec Baldwin.
Halyna Hutchins and Alec Baldwin. (Getty Images)

The film industry has been left shocked and in mourning after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on set when actor and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm.

Hutchins, who was 42, was director of photography for Baldwin's latest movie, "Rust," a Western which was being filmed in New Mexico and stars Baldwin, Travis Fimmel and Jensen Ackles.

According to law enforcement statements provided to CNN, Hutchins was shot around 1:50 p.m. Thursday local time and was airlifted to hospital but died of her injuries.

In a tweet Friday, Baldwin said he was heartbroken and was fully cooperating with police over the tragic accident.

"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours," Baldwin said. "My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna."

Her husband, Michael Hutchins, told the Insider he appreciated the sympathy he has received.

"I don't think there are words to communicate the situation," he told the online news website. "I think that we will need a little bit of time before we can really encapsulate her life in a way that is easy to communicate."

Hutchins said he would not comment on the facts of his wife's death.

Read more about who she was here.