Alec Baldwin, armorer charged with involuntary manslaughter in fatal ‘Rust’ shooting of Halyna Hutchins
Alec Baldwin will be criminally charged in connection with the “Rust” shooting that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead, prosecutors said Thursday.
New Mexico prosecutors will charge Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed with two federal counts of involuntary manslaughter over the death of Hutchins on the “Rust” film set in October 2021, when a real bullet was loaded into a prop gun.
Assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the loaded gun, accepted a misdemeanor charge in a plea deal.
“If any one of these three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will both be charged “in the alternative,” meaning the jury will decide which of the two charges — involuntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act — they are or are not guilty of. Both felony charges hold a maximum prison sentence of 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who will hand down the charges, said that following “a thorough review of the evidence and the laws … I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew.”
“On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice,” she declared in a written statement.
The long-awaited decision to charge the “30 Rock” star and three others came after a meticulous investigation revealed they all bore partial responsibility for the shooting that killed married mom Hutchins, 42 and injured Joel Souza, 49.
Each defendant will get a preliminary court hearing within 60 days to determine if there is probable cause to go to trial, prosecutors said.
During the initial investigation, detectives from the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office said they found a mixture of dummy and live rounds scattered throughout the set, which is a violation of industry safety standards. At the time, Carmack-Altwies said determining how the live rounds got to the set “will be one of the most important factors going into a charging decision.”
Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer in charge of ammo and weapons on set, has repeatedly denied responsibility for the shooting. In January 2022, she filed suit against the props company that supplied the rounds, alleging they sold blanks and lives mixed together.
At the time of the shooting, Baldwin was sitting on a pew in a mock church at the Bonanza Creek Ranch rehearsing a cross draw as Hutchins and Souza stood behind the camera.
As he rehearsed, he pulled out the gun, pointed it directly at the camera and fired a single bullet that struck both Hutchins and Souza.
The Emmy winner has repeatedly denied pulling the trigger, saying the gun went off accidentally, but an FBI forensic report released in August concluded the firearm couldn’t have gone off unless someone released the trigger.
Souza told police he recalled hearing the phrase “cold gun” while preparing for the scene, indicating the firearm wasn’t loaded and was safe for use, but he couldn’t remember if the gun had been checked before it was handed to Baldwin.
Halls admitted to police he “should have checked” all of the rounds inside the barrel after Gutirrez-Reed passed it over to him.
“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,” detectives wrote in a search warrant affidavit filed last fall.
When asked about the safety protocols on set in regards to firearms, Hall told police the armorer typically “spins the drum” and checks to ensure there are no live rounds before handing it off.
“I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there’s no live fire, [Hannah] opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set,” Halls told authorities.
During Gutierrez-Reed’s interview with cops, she told investigators she checked the “dummies” and “ensured they were not ‘hot’ rounds,” the affidavit stated.
“Hannah advised she handed the gun to Alec Baldwin a couple times, and also handed it to David Halls. When [a detective] asked about live ammo on set, Hannah responded no live ammo is ever kept on set,” the filing stated.
After the round struck the two crew members, Halls picked up the gun from the pew where Baldwin was sitting and handed it to Gutierrez-Reed.
The rookie armorer was told to “open” the gun so Halls could see what was inside and he recalled seeing at least four “dummy” casings with the hole on the side, “and one without the hole,” the affidavit said.
“He advised this round did not have the ‘cap’ on it and was just the casing. David advised the incident was not a deliberate act.”
According to the search warrant, when the crew broke for lunch the day of the shooting, the firearms were secured in the prop truck but during lunch, Gutierrez told police the ammo “was left on a cart on the set, not secured,” the document said. PREVIOUS
In February, Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin alleging the actor was responsible for the filmmaker’s death because he was the “person holding the weapon.”
“I think it’s clear what happened,” Hutchins family lawyer Brian Panish said at a press conference in Los Angeles after the suit was filed.
“He had the gun, he says he pulled the hammer back, it fired, and she was killed. … The experts will look at it and make any determinations, but we don’t think this was caused by any defect in the weapon.”
The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount in October.
As a part of the settlement, Hutchins’ widow, Matthew, was also named as an executive producer on film.
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Randi McGinn, a lawyer from Albuquerque who is also representing the Hutchins family, said she is confident that a New Mexico jury will be able to understand the complexities of the case.
“We’re used to people coming in from out of town to play cowboy who don’t know how to use guns,” McGinn said.
“The jury in Santa Fe is used to that and understands that even on a dude ranch, you don’t hand somebody a gun until you’ve given them safety training. … No one should ever die with a real gun on a make-believe set.”