‘Lead projectile’ killed cinematographer on ‘Rust’ set, Santa Fe County sheriff says

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Sheriff’s investigators have recovered the “lead projectile” that killed a cinematographer, as well as 500 other rounds, from the set of the movie “Rust,” authorities said Wednesday.

The investigation is ongoing and Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said it’s too early to determine if there’s enough evidence for criminal charges stemming from the deadly incident.

The rounds recovered from the set include blanks, dummy rounds and what investigators suspect are “live” rounds.

“There was some complacency on this set, and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico,” Mendoza told reporters in Santa Fe.

Despite the sheriff’s accusation of “complacency” on the set, First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, whose office would prosecute any criminal case here, said she can’t yet say if lackluster work would amount to charges.

“There is a bridge and it will take many more facts, corroborated facts, before we can get to that criminal negligent standard,” she said.

It’s been nearly a week since a prop gun fired by the actor Alec Baldwin on the New Mexico set of “Rust” killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, and wounded director Joel Souza, 48.

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The round that killed Hutchins and then lodged in Souza’s left shoulder was taken out by doctors, the sheriff said.

Much of the attention has fallen on “Rust” assistant director Dave Halls, who had been fired from the film “Freedom’s Path” in 2019 after a gun unexpectedly discharged on the set in New Mexico, injuring a crew member, a producer for that film has said.

Halls yelled “cold gun” a week ago Thursday before giving Baldwin the weapon, indicating incorrectly that it didn’t have any live rounds, according to a search warrant.

Questions have also been raised about the experience level of 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the set’s armorer. Gutierrez-Reed, the daughter of Hollywood stuntman Thell Reed, was in charge of weapons and gun safety on the set.

Both of those crew members and Baldwin have spoken to detectives.

“All three individuals have been cooperative in the investigation and have provided statements,” Mendoza said.

Representatives for Baldwin and Souza declined comment immediately after Mendoza’s briefing with reporters.

The tragedy has prompted some in Hollywood to call for more stringent gun safety rules or the banning of on-set weapons altogether in the age of computer-generated visuals.

Work on “Rust” has been suspended until the investigation is finished, the film’s production team told crew members in a letter Sunday night.

“As we go through this crisis, we have made the decision to wrap the set at least until the investigations are complete,” the letter said.

Diana Dasrath contributed.

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