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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12:09 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Sheriff: "It's too early right now" to comment on charges in "Rust" movie shooting

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said it's "too early" to comment on charges following the fatal shooting on the "Rust" set, but added arrests will be made if the investigation shows a crime occurred.

"It's too early right now in the investigation to comment on changes at this point," he said at a news conference.

He added:

"The investigation will continue, and if the sheriff's office determines during our investigation a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed."

The director of photography of "Rust," Halyna Hutchins, was killed last week as actor Alec Baldwin was practicing drawing a prop gun during rehearsals.

Baldwin has said he's cooperating with authorities.

12:10 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Police have 600 items of evidence in relation to "Rust" shooting

In the first briefing since the fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set Thursday, Santa Fe County Sherriff Adan Mendoza said investigators have collected 600 items of evidence, including what officials believe is the gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin.

"Through the execution of search warrants, we have collected about 600 items of evidence. These include, but are not limited to, three firearms, approximately 500 rounds of ammunition and several pieces of clothing and accessories. We believe that we have in our possession the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin.This is the firearm we believe discharged the bullet. We also believe that we have the spent shell casing from the bullet that was fired from the gun." 

"We have recovered what we believe to be possible, additional live rounds on set," Mendoza said, adding, "All the previous mentioned items, along with other items of evidence, will be submitted to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis."

12:04 p.m. ET, October 27, 2021

NOW: Sheriff and district attorney provide update on "Rust" shooting investigation

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies are holding a joint news conference soon to discuss the ongoing investigation into the shooting incident on movie set “Rust.”

A district attorney spokesperson confirmed to CNN that Carmack-Altwies is not ruling out criminal charges in the fatal shooting, noting that the incident remains under active investigation. 

In an interview with the New York Times, 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 actor Alec Baldwin.

What we know so far about the investigation: Investigators also found two other prop guns, a Western-style gun belt and some ammunition. In the affidavit, detectives sought a search warrant to seize more items as evidence, including firearms and ammunition, cameras, memory cards and computers.

The Bonanza Creek Ranch, which has been used for dozens of Western-themed movies and TV series, including "Lonesome Dove" and "Cowboys and Aliens," now sits deserted. The production team said it has halted filming on "Rust," at least until the investigation into the shooting is complete.

CNN's Josh Campbell and Faith Karimi contributed reporting to this post.

11:15 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

Hollywood prop master says he declined working on "Rust" after producers asked too much of the role

From CNN’s Sarah Moon

Prop master Neal Zoromski speaks with CNN.
Prop master Neal Zoromski speaks with CNN. (CNN)

Neal Zoromski, a long time Hollywood prop master, declined an offer to work on “Rust” after being asked by producers to fulfill two roles on the movie set, an approach that he thought was “flawed.”

Zoromski said he was asked to take on two jobs, one as an armorer and another as an assistant key prop master.

“That premise is flawed,” Zoromski told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “It’s just an awful lot of landscape for even a seasoned professional to cover.”

Zoromski explained that, “if you are loading a gun, you’re right up next to the camera. If you’re an assistant key prop master, then you are in the background loading the wagons, checking the bridles, making sure the trunk is being loaded and offloaded and repeated over and over again.”

“There are so many things that go on in between the foreground and the background and to have to cover that amount of territory, and to do it well, is challenging for even a seasoned professional,” he added. 

Zoromski said he had misgivings about the job as he spoke to various people on the production team about numbers, budgeting, and staffing questions that needed to be addressed.

“We were in the process of negotiating over several days, we had sort of been up and down with numbers and staffing numbers,” Zoromski said.

Zoromski said he expressed his concerns and needs during the negotiation but they were not immediately addressed when presented to producers and staff. 

10:47 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

"Rust" producers hired a firm to investigate fatal shooting

From CNN’s Joe Sutton

A law firm has been hired by “Rust” producers to investigate the shooting that killed the film's director of photography Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza, Deadline.com reported exclusively.

“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.”

CNN has not received a copy of the letter that Deadline said was distributed to cast and crew members. CNN has reached out to law firm Jenner & Block for comment.

Today, the district attorney and the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office are expected to hold a news conference to provide an update on the investigation. 

 

10:27 a.m. ET, October 27, 2021

"Rust" script supervisor has evidence that will be "helpful" in investigation, attorney says

From CNN’s Lucy Kafanov and Jenn Selva

Attorney Gloria Allred says her client, “Rust” script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, has evidence which will be “helpful in this investigation” and has been interviewed by law enforcement.

In a statement, Allred said Mitchell was standing near Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza when they were shot and immediately ran out of the church. 

They believe she was the first person to call 911.

“Halyna was a friend and close colleague of Mamie,” Allred said in a statement.  “She is devastated by the loss of her friend who was an extraordinary woman. Mamie recently attended the vigil for Halyna and her heart goes out to Halyna’s husband and son to whom she has spoken.” 

Allred described her client as “traumatized” and said they are conducting their own investigation into what happened.

Hutchins was killed on set when actor and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm last Thursday.

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.