Reid Russell, a camera operator who was working on the film’s set that day, noted to detectives in a newly released affidavit that Baldwin was very careful when it came to the use of prop firearms while filming prior to the incident.
According to the warrant affidavit, which was obtained by Fox News, Russell actually commended the 63-year-old actor for his conduct during a prior scene that involved discharging a firearm. He noted that the actor observed all the safety protocols and even did an extra check-in with the crew to make sure no one was near him. Specifically, he made sure a child who was on set that day wasn’t anywhere near him when discharging the weapon.
Unfortunately, Baldwin was reportedly told by assistant director Dave Halls that the gun he was working with when Hutchins was shot was a “cold gun,” a term used when a firearm being worked with on a set is not loaded with any live ammunition. Unfortunately, it seems the gun was in fact loaded. When Baldwin pulled the trigger while working with Souza and Hutchins to set up a shot, it went off resulting in one of the worst on-set tragedies in recent memory.
In the warrant from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office, Souza explained that he heard “what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop,” and noticed Hutchins, who he was standing behind at the time, grab her midsection as she stumbled backward. She “was assisted to the ground” by other crew members and Russell recalls Hutchins saying she could not feel her legs.
“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company,” Rust Movie Productions said in a statement to multiple outlets. “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.”
Although the police are currently investigating the incident, the failure appears to be with communication over whether or not the gun was loaded with a live round or not. Film and prop historian Michael Corrie previously told Fox News that there are procedures in place on a movie set to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen.
“The person responsible for loading and ensuring that the firearm is ready for the scene is called an armorer [or weapons master], and you’re supposed to have an armorer and an assistant armorer. Then there are several steps that you’re supposed to go through to ensure that a weapon is loaded correctly with the correct type of blanks,” Corrie explained. “Because there’s more than one type of blank, there’s lower power and then mid-power and then high-power blanks, and they create different visual effects.”
Speaking in the affidavit, Souza said three people were indeed handling the gun for the scene. Armorer Hanna Gutierrez Reed reportedly handled prop guns left on a cart outside the structure they were shooting in due to coronavirus restrictions. Assistant director Dave Halls handed one of those guns to Baldwin.
According to a Santa Fe court, Halls announced that it was a “cold gun” before giving it to the actor. Therefore, it’s unclear at this time how a round made its way into the revolver. Neither Souza nor Russell believed a live round was involved with the scene in question at all.