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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5:54 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Santa Fe district attorney says she was "shocked" to learn of fatal shooting on "Rust" set

From CNN’s Josh Campbell and Claudia Dominguez

Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies
Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies (CNN)

Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said that she was “shocked” and “completely astonished” when she first heard about the shooting on the set of the movie “Rust.” 

“I got a text message actually from someone at my office, and I didn't believe it,” Carmack-Altwies said in an interview Wednesday. “I was completely astonished and then I think I got about 40 more text messages confirming that from people at my office.” 

The district attorney said she was under the impression that movie sets were “safer and more protected.”

“The entire situation has shocked me. I was under the assumption, probably with most other people in this country, that movie sets were much safer and more protected than I think that at least this movie was,” she said. 

A crew member working on the “Rust” set said the on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was the result of “negligence and unprofessionalism.” 

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. 

5:10 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

How live rounds got into the gun will be key factor in bringing charges, district attorney says

From CNN’s Josh Campbell and Claudia Dominguez

The Santa Fe County district attorney said that determining how the gun fired by Alec Baldwin became loaded with live rounds will be key in the decision to bring possible criminal charges in the case.

“We don't know how those live rounds got there,” the district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies told CNN on Wednesday. “And I think that that will probably end up being kind of the linchpin for whether a decision is made about charges.”

Carmack-Altwies said that involuntary manslaughter charges could be considered in this case, pending the outcome of the investigation, though involuntary manslaughter cases are not common in New Mexico. 

“It's not negligence, it's involuntary manslaughter. It is our equivalent to negligence but it is a higher standard than sort of classic negligence,” Carmack-Altwies explained. “So that willful disregard what we have to do when we're trying to figure out if someone committed or did that willful disregard, we have to go to our case law.”

The district attorney said that while she did not know if criminal negligence had occurred before the fatal shooting, that there is an argument for civil negligence. Any decision to bring charges, she said, could take weeks or months.

“This is a large, complex investigation,” she told CNN. 

Carmack-Altwies said that while the case has generated intense attention, she would not make a decision to bring charges due to outside pressure.

“I will not make my decision based on that pressure,” she said. “The decision will be based on the law and the evidence, period.”

5:32 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Search warrant: "Rust" assistant director acknowledges failure to fully check Baldwin’s gun

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

David Halls
David Halls (IMDB)

The assistant director on "Rust" who handed Alec Baldwin the gun that fired the fatal shot acknowledged to investigators that he did not check all the rounds loaded in the weapon prior to the lethal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, a detective wrote in a search warrant affidavit made public Wednesday.

Detective Alexandria Hancock described her interviews with first assistant director David Halls and armorer Hannah Gutierrez.

“David advised when Hannah showed him the firearm before continuing rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum," the affidavit said.

An earlier affidavit stated Halls shouted “cold gun” (meaning the gun did not have a blank or a live round that contained gunpowder that could explode), before handing it to Baldwin.

Investigators added the request to search the van after interviewing several members of the movie crew, including Gutierrez, who told investigators the weapons used in filming were stored in a safe inside the van or “prop truck” to which only a few people had access and the combination.

Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza said Wednesday a suspected live round killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. Yet in the warrant, Hancock says Gutierrez told investigators, “No live ammo is ever kept on set.”

“David advised the incident was not a deliberate act,” the detective wrote of the interview with Halls.

More context: According to the affidavit, a van used to store weapons and props on the Santa Fe set of "Rust" was searched for evidence prompted by interviews from the film crew. The van was searched for firearms, ammunition, a gun safe, fingerprints, bodily fluids, and residue, the detective said.

“Hannah advised on the day of the incident, she checked the ‘dummies’ and ensured they were no ‘hot’ rounds,” the warrant states about the ammo used on set. While the firearms were secured inside the van, “ammo was left on a cart on the set, not secured,” Gutierrez told investigators.

The grey, two-tier cart also contained a western-style belt and other prop-ammunition.

Gutierrez told investigators she handed the gun to Baldwin a couple of times during the day’s filming, and also handed it to Halls.

Reid Russell, a cameraman standing next to Hutchins and Souza, also told deputies everyone seemed to be getting along, despite an earlier walkout of some crew members the previous day. He told deputies he had stepped out of the immediate area for about five minutes and was not sure whether the weapon was checked during his absence.

Souza, who sustained a gunshot wound to his shoulder in the incident, told law enforcement, “as far as he knows, no one gets checked for live ammunition on their person prior and after the scenes are being filmed.”

Halls and Gutierrez have not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.


5:32 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

"Rust" armorer "mishandled" guns on previous film with Nicolas Cage, crew members say

From CNN's Chloe Melas

Two crew members tell CNN that Hannah Gutierrez, 24, who was the lead armorer on the set of "Rust," mishandled weapons on a previous film project.

Stu Brumbaugh, the key grip on "The Old Way," told CNN that Gutierrez handled guns on the set of that project in a reckless manner and that he urged the film's assistant director to fire her.

“There’s a universal way to handle weapons on set and immediately red flags went up when I worked with Hannah,” Brumbaugh said. “This is why I asked for her dismissal.”

“This is why people get injured because of rookie mistakes,” he said. 

CNN has reached out to the film's production company and the assistant director on the film for comment. CNN has also reached out to Gutierrez.  

Brumbaugh cited an incident in which Gutierrez fired a gun near the film's star Nicolas Cage without warning. 

"Make an announcement! You just blew my f***ing eardrums out!" Cage screamed in response and then walked off set angrily, according to Brumbaugh. 

“She was talking to the stunt coordinator, and she just fired off a round, it sounded [like she fired] at the ground, and that’s when Nick really laid into her. That’s when I said she needs to be let go, she’s the most inexperienced armorer I had ever worked with. I have no idea why she wasn’t let go.”

CNN has reached out to Cage for comment.

Brumbaugh's allegations were first reported by The Wrap. 

Gutierrez is the daughter of longtime Hollywood armorer, Thell Reed. "Rust" was her second film as an armorer. She said on an episode of The Voices of the West podcast in September that she was "nervous" to work on "The Old Way."  

"I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, like it went really smoothly," she said during the podcast.

A source who worked on “The Old Way" and requested their name not be included for fear of professional reprisal told CNN they also had concerns about Gutierrez's work on the project. 

"She walked out onto the set with live rounds with no announcement whatsoever to the cast and crew by her," the source said. "She never announced to anyone that she was walking on the set carrying firearms loaded with blanks with her."

"She didn't carry the firearms safely. She had pistols tucked under her armpits and was carrying rifles in each hand that were ready to be used in the scene," this individual added. "Firearms were aimed at people. She turned around and the pistols that were tucked under her armpits were pointing back at people."

On Wednesday, the Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said investigators believe the gun fired by "Rust" producer and star Alec Baldwin contained a "suspected live round."

Mendoza said Gutierrez, Baldwin and others on the "Rust" set at the time of the shooting are cooperating with the investigation.

5:33 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Sheriff’s department says Alec Baldwin has been interviewed multiple times

From CNN’s Leslie Perrot

(Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
(Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department has interviewed actor Alec Baldwin multiple times, according to Juan Rios, the department’s public information officer.

Speaking to reporters off camera after the sheriff’s news conference on Wednesday, Rios said that the assistant director, David Halls, and armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, have been interviewed at least once but he was unsure if it was more than that.

Rios also said that the department considers this a “shooting investigation” not a “homicide investigation."

2:41 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Santa Fe County Sheriff considers the projectile that killed Hutchins a "suspected live round"

From CNN’s Kay Jones

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza speaks to the press on October 27.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza speaks to the press on October 27. (Photo by Nick Layman/AFP/Getty Images)

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said they consider the projectile that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins a “suspected live round.”

Hutchins was killed last week as actor Alec Baldwin was practicing drawing a prop gun during rehearsals on the set of “Rust.”

During a news conference Wednesday, Mendoza said officials suspect there were other live rounds on set but wouldn't comment on how they got there. 

Mendoza also clarified that the 500 rounds of ammunition found on the set were a mix of blanks, dummy rounds, and suspected live rounds.

He said that of the three guns seized from the set, one was altered and not functioning and the other was plastic.

“The facts are clear: a weapon was handed to Mr. Baldwin. The weapon is functional and fired a live round killing Ms. Hutchins,” Mendoza said. 

He said a dead projectile recovered by Souza’s shoulder and the FBI crime lab will determine make of bullet and if it was fired from actual firearm. He said the testing still needs to be done.

He said the projectile was “apparently” the same round that killed Hutchins but will leave that determination to the medical examiner. 

Mendoza said that Alec Baldwin has been cooperative in the investigation. He said several individuals still need to be interviewed. He is not putting a timeline on to when it will be completed. 

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies also said during the news conference that prosecution will be initiated if facts and documents support charges. She said all options are on the table at this point and asks that the sheriff’s office be allowed to continue with the investigation. 

1:23 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

"Rust" producers hire firm to investigate fatal shooting

From CNN's Chloe Melas and Joe Sutton

A spokesperson for the law firm Jenner & Block confirmed to CNN it is investigating the fatal shooting on the set of "Rust" on behalf of the film’s producers.

Previously, reported that a law firm had been hired by “Rust” producers to investigate the shooting that killed the film's director of photography Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

“In addition to cooperating with authorities, we hired a legal team from Jenner & Block to conduct an investigation of the events,” according to a communication sent Tuesday evening from the “Rust” production to cast and crew members, Deadline reported. “We have stressed that they will have full discretion about who to interview and any conclusions they draw.”
12:29 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Sheriff says "we suspect there were other live rounds" on the movie set

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza speaks during a press conference on Wednesday, October 27.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza speaks during a press conference on Wednesday, October 27. (CNN)

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said that "we suspect there were other live rounds that were found on set" of the "Rust" movie, where a shooting incident resulted in the death of director of photography Halyna Hutchins last week.

"I won't comment further on how they got there. This investigation is active, so I won't comment on how they got there, but we suspect that they are there. That will be determined when testing is done by the crime lab in reference to whether or not they are officially live rounds or not," Mendoza said during a press conference.

The sheriff said authorities are conducting further investigations to determine how crew members obtained a gun with a live round in it.

"The people that inspected or handled the firearm when it was loaded before it got to Mr. Baldwin — we're interviewing. And there [are] some followup questions that we need to do," he said.  

Later in the press conference, Mendoza said:

"We know there was one live round, as far as we're concerned, on set. We're going to determine whether we suspect that there were other live rounds, but that's up to the testing. But right now, we're going to determine how those got there, why they were there, because they shouldn't have been there."  

5:33 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Authorities conducting "thorough and objective" investigation into shooting on the set of "Rust" 

From CNN’s Kay Jones

Authorities in New Mexico are conducting a “thorough and objective” investigation into what happened on the “Rust” set last week, but no charges have been filed yet in the death of Halyna Hutchins.

During a press conference Wednesday morning in Santa Fe, Adan Mendoza, Santa Fe County Sheriff, confirmed that Alec Baldwin fired the weapon. Baldwin, armorer Hannah Gutierrez and assistant director David Halls have been cooperative with investigators, according to Mendoza.

About 500 rounds of ammunition have been seized from the set, Mendoza said. He said they believe the spent shell casing from the bullet that was fired from the gun and a projectile was recovered from the shoulder of Joel Souza, the movie’s director who was also injured in the shooting. 

The evidence will be submitted to the FBI for further processing, he said. 

Mendoza said it’s too early to comment on possible charges.