Entertainment

Hollywood petition to ban the use of live weapons on film sets gathers over 10K signatures


A change.org petition calling for Hollywood to ban the use of firearms on film sets has gathered over 10,000 signatures since it was created on Thursday after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was accidentally shot dead by Alec Baldwin when he was given a prop gun loaded with live ammunition. 

The petition was started by Hutchins’ friend and colleague Director Bandar Albuliwi who wrote: ‘We need to make sure that this avoidable tragedy never happens again. There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century. Real guns are no longer needed on film production sets.’ 

Albuliwi directly calls on Baldwin ‘to use his power and influence in the Hollywood film industry to make change.’

Craig Zobel, who directed HBO’s Mare of Easttown, a cop drama, agrees with Albuliwi and the 10,000 people who signed the petition explaining that he used fake guns and special effects in his show. 

He tweeted: ‘There’s no reason to have guns loaded with blanks or anything on set anymore. Should just be fully outlawed. There’s computers now. 

‘The gunshots on Mare of Easttown are all digital. You can probably tell, but who cares? It’s an unnecessary risk.’

He explained: ‘I concede live rounds have a role on set: I do think there are protocols to doing it safely, and I’ve had live rounds on sets for years. Always made me nervous, though. So this last project we didn’t. I think it took a level of anxiety away. We still used squibs, dust caps, etc.’

A petition calling to ban the use of live weapons on film sets has gathered over 10,000 signature in two days after  cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot dead on the set of Rust when Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun loaded with live ammunition killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza

Mare of Easttown director Craig Zobel tweeted that his show used special effects instead of live weapons (Pictured: Kate Winslet starring in Mare of Easttown)

Mare of Easttown director Craig Zobel tweeted that his show used special effects instead of live weapons (Pictured: Kate Winslet starring in Mare of Easttown)

ABC's The Rookie banned the use of 'live' weapons on the set of the police drama series citing Thursday's tragic accident

ABC’s The Rookie banned the use of ‘live’ weapons on the set of the police drama series citing Thursday’s tragic accident

ABC’s The Rookie, another cop drama, just announced a ban on the use of live weapons after Thursday’s tragic incident on the Rust set. 

Showrunner Alexi Hawley sent an email to the crew members: ‘As of today, it is now policy on The Rookie that all gunfire on set will be Air Soft guns with CG muzzle flashes added in post. There will be no more “live” weapons on the show. The safety our cast and crew is too important. Any risk is too much risk.’ 

He informed the crew that moving forward the cop drama will use replica toy guns and postproduction special effects while asking the crew to report anything that made them feel unsafe on set. 

Hawley also expressed The Rookie’s executives sympathy with the victims of the Rust incident.

‘The tragic events in New Mexico yesterday have shaken us all, and our hearts go out to the friends and family of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza,’ it read.  

Experts say that Baldwin ignored the golden rule of gun safety by pointing the prop at someone but the gun never should have been loaded with live ammunition to begin with. 

Zak Knight, a pyrotechnic and special effects engineer who is a member of Local 44, told DailyMail.com on Friday:  ‘There should have never been live rounds on a movie set, that’s number one. Number two is every single person on a movie set has a right to inspect a weapon before it’s fired. And number three is, there is no reason to ever put a person in front of a weapon that’s firing.

‘Anytime you see a movie where the barrel is pointed down the camera lens, there should not be an operator behind it. It’s obvious that the considerations of this resulted in that gun being pointed directly at two people.

‘We would have additionally had a barrier between them. A large number of people failed to do our protocols… every accident is a cascade of events,’ he said.  

Whatever happened in the moments leading up to her death, Knight said it was caused by a ‘cascade of failures’ by multiple people. ‘We have a hard and fast rule that no live ammunition ever goes into a prop truck or set at any time. We just don’t do it. 

‘If you see bullets on set they are complete dummy rounds and are in no way functional. This goes back to Brandon Lee. There’s protocol.’ Lee was killed in a similar incident when another actor shot him with a prop gun that was loaded with live ammunition while filming The Crow in 1993. 

Alec Baldwin was wielding a vintage Colt pistol when it accidentally went off. It is not known who loaded the weapon and why it went off as a replacement crew was brought in the day of the incident (The gun pictured above is a vintage Colt pistol manufactured between 1873-92 while the exact model of the gun used is unknown, Rust is set in the 1880s)

Alec Baldwin was wielding a vintage Colt pistol when it accidentally went off. It is not known who loaded the weapon and why it went off as a replacement crew was brought in the day of the incident (The gun pictured above is a vintage Colt pistol manufactured between 1873-92 while the exact model of the gun used is unknown, Rust is set in the 1880s)

An inconsolable Alec Baldwin is shown outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office after accidentally shooting and killing the cinematographer on Thursday

An inconsolable Alec Baldwin is shown outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office after accidentally shooting and killing the cinematographer on Thursday

Knight added that different gun laws between New Mexico and California may have also contributed to the accident. In California, both a trained armorer and a prop master is required on a film set and those are the standards the union adheres to as well.

‘You will find the best and most well-trained individuals in Los Angeles. You can’t guarantee that as you go across the country,’ he told DailyMail.com on Friday.

Knight said that he’d heard from others involved in the production that there was a walk-out. ‘It’s very possible that the union members said ‘we’re out’, and they brought in people to fill the positions on the fly. There’s a lot of grey area.’

In the days before the tragedy, IATSE had been threatening a large-scale strike that would have crippled Hollywood production. Among the complaints were overworking staff and poor rates. Baldwin recorded a video of himself encouraging the union members to strike if they felt they needed to, saying studio bosses ‘don’t give a f**k about you’, that the union shared online.

EXCLUSIVE: Fatal gun in movie shooting was vintage Colt revolver  

The gun that killed filmmaker Halyna Hutchins was a vintage-style Colt revolver, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned.

Alec Baldwin was handling the vintage gun on the set of Rust in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when it fired a live round – killing mom-of-one Hutchins, 42, and wounding director Joel Souza.

According to a call sheet obtained by DailyMail.com, Baldwin was taking part in a mock gunfight inside the church building on the Bonanza Ranch film set when Hutchins was hit on Thursday.

Co-stars Jensen Ackles, Swen Temmel and Travis Hammer were also in the scene – numbered 121 – alongside Baldwin’s stunt double Blake Teixeira and stunt coordinator Allan Graf.

Production notes show the Colt pistol was one of several weapons on set at the time but the only one used in 121 and the preceding 118.

Filming had been due to continue with a scene that showed Baldwin being thrown into a stagecoach but it was halted following the accident.

Further scenes featuring Baldwin and Ackles had been scheduled for Friday and over the weekend but have now been postponed indefinitely.

‘There’s a direct correlation between maintaining a safe set and the hours that we work. At a certain time there’s no such thing as a safe set if we’re all exhausted,’ Knight, a special effects artist, said.  

One Santa Fe prop master told DailyMail.com that had the gun been checked properly before it was handed to Baldwin, the tragedy wouldn’t have occurred. 

‘If they’d done their job checking the weapon this wouldn’t have happened. You show the assistant director the weapon, you show the actor the weapon, you show everybody it’s a safe weapon. There’s a big chain of command that missed an opportunity to save a life.’

Baldwin first addressed the tragedy on Twitter Friday: ‘There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and’

‘I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.’

He then tweeted a Variety article titled Alec Baldwin Was Told Prop Gun Was Safe Before Fatal Shooting, Affidavit Says. 

He was pictured doubled over in grief on Thursday after speaking to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department immediately following the shooting.  

A public memorial will be held in Albuquerque Saturday from 6 – 7:30 pm. A GoFundMe page has been created by the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600 to raise funds to support her family. 

The American Film Institute has established a memorial scholarship to support aspiring female cinematographers in her honor. 

The 24-year-old head armorer in charge of guns on the film had admitted she wasn’t sure she was ready for the job in an interview before filming started. 

‘I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly,’ Hannah Gutierrez-Reed said in a podcast interview last month after leading the firearms department for The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage – her first time as head armorer.   

She also admitted in the podcast interview she found loading blanks into a gun ‘the scariest’ thing because she did not know how to do it and had sought help from her father, legendary gunsmith Thell Reed, to get over the fear.  

It comes as the film crew revealed they walked off set hours before the fatal accident over safety fears after firearms were accidentally discharged three times – including once by Baldwin’s stunt double who had been told the gun was not loaded, and twice in a closed cabin. 

A search warrant released Friday said that Gutierrez-Reed laid out three prop guns on a cart outside the filming location, and first assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds. 

‘Cold gun!’ shouted Halls before handing the gun to Baldwin, using the phrase to signal to cast and crew that the gun was safe to fire for the scene, the warrant said.  

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Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the 24-year-old head armorer in charge of guns on Alec Baldwin film where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was tragically shot and killed on Thursday had admitted she 'wasn't sure she was ready' for the job in an interview before filming started

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the 24-year-old head armorer in charge of guns on Alec Baldwin film where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was tragically shot and killed on Thursday had admitted she ‘wasn’t sure she was ready’ for the job in an interview before filming started

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed (left) also admitted in the podcast interview she found loading blanks into a gun 'the scariest' thing

Gutierrez-Reed was trained by her father, legendary gunsmith Thell Reed

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed (left) also admitted in the podcast interview she found loading blanks into a gun ‘the scariest’ thing because she did not know how to do it and had sought help from her father, legendary gunsmith Thell Reed, (right) to get over the fear

A search warrant released Friday said first assistant director Dave Halls (left) grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds

Baldwin then aimed towards the camera and pulled the trigger, accidentally killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins as she filmed him

A search warrant released Friday said first assistant director Dave Halls (left) grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds. Baldwin then aimed towards the camera and pulled the trigger, accidentally killing Hutchins (right) as she filmed him

An aerial view of the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, where the movie was being filmed. Workers had been protesting over the fact production wouldn't pay for them to stay in hotels and motels in Santa Fe, instead forcing them to drive an hour to Albuquerque

An aerial view of the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, where the movie was being filmed. Workers had been protesting over the fact production wouldn’t pay for them to stay in hotels and motels in Santa Fe, instead forcing them to drive an hour to Albuquerque   

Why WAS a gun on Alec Baldwin movie set loaded with live ammo? Mystery over events that led to actor killing cinematographer 

The deadly chain of events on set that led to Alec Baldwin being handed a gun with live ammunition and accidentally shooting and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins have become clearer after it emerged last night the actor fired a live round, believing it to be a blank. 

Experts yesterday told DailyMail.com safety on set is usually extremely tight with live bullets never used in filming and it remains unclear why a firearm loaded with live ammunition was on the Rust set at all. 

Baldwin was handed a gun loaded with live ammunition 

First assistant director Dave Halls picked up one of the firearms – a vintage-style Colt revolver laid out by armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed – unaware it was loaded with live bullets.

‘Cold gun!’ shouted Halls before handing the gun to Baldwin, using the phrase to signal to cast and crew that the gun was safe to fire for the scene, a search warrant released on Friday said.

Baldwin, filming a scene inside an Old West-style church, then fired a live round towards the camera, accidentally killing Hutchins as she filmed him.  

Hutchins was airlifted to the hospital but was pronounced dead. Souza was taken to the hospital by ambulance but was released on Thursday evening. 

Why was live ammunition used on set in the first place? 

Live ammunition is never usually used on film sets and Baldwin’s shooting and killing of a cinematographer a ‘total mystery’, a Hollywood armorer has said.

Mike Tristan, 60, who has provided guns for movie sets for over 30 years, said the injuries sustained by Hutchins should not have been possible. 

Tristan, who has worked with Baldwin before, said any professional armorer would have checked the weapon, which he believes was a Western, before handing it to the 63-year-old.

‘There should have been blanks in the gun, the on-set armorer’s job is to check that before handing the weapon over,’ Tristan told Dailymail.com.

‘They then make sure that the actor stands on a mark and never points the gun at the crew or cast, you give them an aim to point at and the editing makes it seem like they were pointing at their co-actor.

‘That’s why everyone in the industry is very confused, how this happened is a total mystery at the moment.’

Union members had walked off set hours earlier over safety concerns 

Unionized members walked off set on Wednesday, hours before the tragedy, complaining of safety concerns. 

They complained about long hours, shoddy conditions and another safety incident days earlier involving ‘two misfires’ of a prop weapon. 

Deadline cites an unnamed source who said a gun had gone off ‘in a cabin’ while someone was holding it, days prior to the shooting that killed Hutchins.

‘A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin. They just fired loud pops – a person was just holding it in their hands and it went off,’ they said, apparently referring to unintentional discharges.

Baldwin’s stunt double also accidentally fired two rounds after being told the firearm was ‘cold’.

When they turned up to set to clear their things on Thursday, they found they’d been replaced by locals.

It begs the question of who those local workers were, what their training was and to what extent did they check the weapon before it was handed to Baldwin.

 

Seconds later, filming a scene inside an Old West-style church, Baldwin apparently aimed towards the camera and pulled the trigger, accidentally killing Hutchins as she filmed him, and injuring director Joel Souza, who stood behind her. 

Neither Halls nor Gutierrez-Reed immediately returned messages from DailyMail.com late on Friday. Neither has been charged or named as a criminal suspect in the case, though a police investigation is ongoing.  

The movie, set in 1880’s Kansas, stars Baldwin as the infamous outlaw Harland Rust, whose grandson is sentenced to hang for an accidental murder.  

In the interview with the Voices of the West last month, Gutierrez-Reed revealed her father only started teaching her about guns at age 16 and that most of her training had happened in the last couple of years. 

She described filming The Old Way earlier in the year as the start of a ‘long’ career. 

According to her LinkedIn page, she most recently worked as a videographer at Synth Fire, a California-based news and media company, and as a documentary filmmaker for the City of Flagstaff in Arizona. 

She worked as an armorer for Yellowstone film ranch between March and June 2021, but according to the page stopped working there three months before filming for Rust started in October.

Gutierrez-Reed had only recently left Northern Arizona university, where she studied creative media and film between 2017 and 2020.  

Meanwhile Halls is a veteran assistant director with scores of credits on productions involving prop guns, including Fargo, The Matrix Reloaded, and the TV cop comedy Reno 911. 

In 2000, Halls was the second unit’s first assistant director on The Crow: Salvation, the sequel to the film in which Bruce Lee’s son Brandon Lee was killed in an on-set firearms mishap in 1993.   

The warrant said that a single bullet struck Hutchins in the chest, and then struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder as he was standing behind her, injuring him, suggesting the bullet traveled all the way through Hutchins’ body. 

The gun that fired the fatal shot was a vintage-style Colt revolver, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned. 

After the shooting, the armorer took possession of the gun and a spent casing, which were turned over to police, along with other prop guns and ammunition used on the set. 

Baldwin also changed out of the Western costume he was wearing, which was stained with blood, and turned it over to police.

The warrant does not reveal the model or caliber of the prop gun that fired the fatal bullet, but the film is set in the Old West of the 1880s and DailyMail.com has learned it was a Colt.

The warrant was obtained Friday so that investigators could document the scene at the ranch where the shooting took place. 

Unionized workers had walked off the set hours before the fatal shooting, after they complained about long hours, shoddy conditions and another safety incident days earlier involving ‘two misfires’ of a prop weapon. 

A yet-unnamed prop master who oversaw the gun used in the fatal shooting was a non-union worker who was ‘just brought in’ to replace the workers who left over safety concerns, a source involved in the movie told the New York Post.

It’s unclear whether Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer, had recently joined the production, or was one of the crew members who stayed behind after the walk-off. 

However, a link in her Instagram bio points to an article about Rust from May, suggesting she had been attached to the production for some time. 

Unionized employees had been complaining about the fact they had to stay overnight in Albuquerque – an hour’s drive from the set – and not Sante Fe because production wouldn’t pay for their hotels, according to sources cited by The Los Angeles Times and multiple social media posts by film and TV insiders. 

When they turned up to set to clear their things on Thursday, they found they’d been replaced by locals. 

It begs the question of who those local workers were, what their training was and to what extent did they check the weapon before it was handed to Baldwin.  

Deadline also cites an unnamed source who said a gun had gone off ‘in a cabin’ while someone was holding it, days prior to the shooting that killed Hutchins.

‘A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin. They just fired loud pops – a person was just holding it in their hands and it went off,’ they said, apparently referring to unintentional discharges.   

Rust Production LLC did not respond to repeated requests for comment from DailyMail.com on Friday about the incident, but members of the union that represents many of the crew who were involved in the production said they had expressed fears about on-set safety.  

Production of the film has stopped now in light of the tragedy. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department is investigating and 'collecting evidence', a spokesman said on Friday

Production of the film has stopped now in light of the tragedy. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department is investigating and ‘collecting evidence’, a spokesman said on Friday 

Union members vented on social media before the tragedy about the poor conditions on the set of the film. They talked about having to sleep in their cars at the set rather than make the drive back to Albuquerque because they were too exhausted

Union members vented on social media before the tragedy about the poor conditions on the set of the film. They talked about having to sleep in their cars at the set rather than make the drive back to Albuquerque because they were too exhausted

It is the same union that had been threatened to galvanize an industry-wide strike in protest over poor working conditions including low pay and laxed safety. IATSE Local 44 – whose members were involved in the Rust production – said in a statement to its members that no union members were on the set on Thursday.

One text message that was circulating on social media, shared repeatedly by union members, refers to a ‘walk out’ by staff the day before the tragedy. 

The text message claims that Halyna was one of the few people who decided to stay. She belonged to IATSE Local 600 and had been campaigning for better conditions for her team when she was killed. 

One person who was involved with the production posted on social media that crew had been sleeping in their cars at the movie set because they were too tired to drive the one-hour back to Albuquerque after grueling days. 

The movie does not have a large budget like other productions, and one experienced prop master who was offered the job turned it down because it wasn’t paying enough for her to take the job. 

DailyMail.com spoke with the crew member who ranted on social media about the deplorable work conditions that led union members to walk out hours before the fatal accident. 

A vehicle from the Office of the Medical Investigator enters the front gate leading to the Bonanza Creek Ranch on Friday, after Rust Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on set

A vehicle from the Office of the Medical Investigator enters the front gate leading to the Bonanza Creek Ranch on Friday, after Rust Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on set

‘I am literally on the show in New Mexico with him and the producers on that movie are treating the local crew like f**king dog sh*t,’ he wrote in one post earlier this week.

‘At the moment I’m fighting to get my crew, on this movie, hotel rooms when we go long or are too tired to drive the hour back from location to Albuquerque,’ he wrote in another. ‘They either say no or offer a garbage roadside motel….’

Reached by DailyMail.com and shown the posts in question, the member, who lives in Albuquerque, NM, didn’t deny he wrote them. But he wouldn’t answer follow-up questions, saying he didn’t want to interfere with the police investigation.

‘I can’t speak to anything until I know that the police have the strongest possible case against the people who are ultimately responsible for this,’ he told DailyMail.com.

A Santa Fe County Sheriff Department spokesman said on Friday afternoon: ‘The investigation remains active and open. Witnesses continue to be interviewed and evidence collected.’ 

In addition to the criminal probe, New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau is investigating Hutchins’ death, and could impose civil penalties even if no charges are brought in the case.

‘Our state OSHA program is investigating this,’ Rebecca Roose, deputy cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department,’ told Deadline

‘The state takes all workplace safety issues very seriously and will work diligently through our investigation of this tragic fatality.’   

The workers were angry that they weren't being put up in Sante Fe, the town nearest the ranch where they were shooting, and instead were being told to drive every night to Albuquerque after long shifts. Some said they were sleeping in their cars at the set to avoid it

The workers were angry that they weren’t being put up in Sante Fe, the town nearest the ranch where they were shooting, and instead were being told to drive every night to Albuquerque after long shifts. Some said they were sleeping in their cars at the set to avoid it 

Baldwin and Hutchins (circled) are pictured together on the set of Rust, in an image that she uploaded to Instagram two days ago saying the crew of the film were supporting a strike by the IATSE union

Baldwin and Hutchins (circled) are pictured together on the set of Rust, in an image that she uploaded to Instagram two days ago saying the crew of the film were supporting a strike by the IATSE union

Alec Baldwin is seen on the set of Rust with fake blood earlier Thursday, hours before he shot and killed the film's cinematographer. He shared this photo on Instagram with the caption "Back to in person at the office. Blimey¿it¿s exhausting." Filming was halted following the fatal incident at the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set in Santa Fe

Hutchins' social media shows she was married to Matthew (pictured together), a Los Angeles-based lawyer. It is unclear when the pair married, but they have a son who was born either in late 2012 or early 2013

Hutchins’ husband Matthew told DailyMail.com on Friday exclusively: ‘I have spoken with Alec Baldwin. He is being very supportive’  

The Baldwin family's nanny was pictured packing up their SUV outside the family's NYC home on Friday but there was no sign of the actor's wife Hilaria

The Baldwin family’s nanny was pictured packing up their SUV outside the family’s NYC home on Friday but there was no sign of the actor’s wife Hilaria 

Baldwin's wife Hilaria posted this screenshot of them FaceTiming on Thursday before the tragedy

Baldwin’s wife Hilaria posted this screenshot of them FaceTiming on Thursday before the tragedy 

Last month, actor Jensen Ackles told a conference in Denver how he’d been able to ‘choose’ his own gun from the female armorer in a haphazard training session. It was not clear whether he was referring to Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer named in the search warrant.

‘They had me pick my gun. They were like, ‘Alright, what gun would you like?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know’, and the armorer was like, ‘Do you have gun experience?’ I was like, ‘A little’, she was like, ‘This is how you load it…check it’s safe. Do you want it hip drawn or cross drawn?’ I was like ‘cross drawn, that sounds fun’.’

‘So she’s like, ‘I’ll just put some blanks in there and just fire a couple of rounds towards the hill.’

‘I walk out and she’s like, ‘Just make sure you pull the hammer all the way back and aim at your target’. 

‘I was like alright I got it,’ he said. 

It’s unclear where Baldwin is now. There was no sign of his wife, Hilaria, outside their New York City apartment on Friday but a nanny was pictured loading up their SUV.

The production employed ’73 New Mexican crew, 22 New Mexico principal actors, and 230 New Mexico background talent’ according to a press release issued earlier this month. 

According to the prop masters’ union email, the ‘Props, Set Decoration, Special Effects and Construction Departments were staffed by New Mexico crew members’ – none of whom belonged to the union. 

In the days before the tragedy, IATSE had been threatening a large-scale strike that would have crippled Hollywood production.

Among the complaints were overworking staff and poor rates. Baldwin recorded a video of himself encouraging the union members to strike if they felt they needed to, saying studio bosses ‘don’t give a f**k about you’, that the union shared online. 

The tragedy is reminiscent of the 1993 accident on the set of The Crow, when Bruce Lee’s son Brandon was shot and killed by a fellow actor. Halls worked on the sequel The Crow: Salvation.

The film crew in that accident thought the gun was loaded with dummy bullets and blanks, but an autopsy revealed Lee had a .44 caliber bullet lodged in his spine. Investigators in that shooting also probed the theory that a dummy cartridge got stuck in the barrel before the second was fired – a known hazard in shooting which can cause serious injuries or death when the second round is fired.  

Lee’s family tweeted condolences to Hutchins’ and Souza’s families: ‘Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust’. No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.’ 

Actor Jensen Ackles told last month how he'd received haphazard gun training on the film set. He talked about being able to choose his own gun, and how the unnamed female armorer loaded it with blanks then shot it at a hill before asking him how he'd like to draw the weapon and then letting him shoot

Actor Jensen Ackles told last month how he'd received haphazard gun training on the film set. He talked about being able to choose his own gun, and how the unnamed female armorer loaded it with blanks then shot it at a hill before asking him how he'd like to draw the weapon and then letting him shoot

Actor Jensen Ackles told last month how he’d received haphazard gun training on the film set. He talked about being able to choose his own gun, and how the unnamed female armorer loaded it with blanks then shot it at a hill before asking him how he’d like to draw the weapon and then letting him shoot. A photo he posted from the set is shown, right 

An image taken on the set of Rust shows cast and crew members receiving a safety briefing before filming stunts. The image was uploaded to Instagram a week ago

An image taken on the set of Rust shows cast and crew members receiving a safety briefing before filming stunts. The image was uploaded to Instagram a week ago

Will Baldwin face charges? Legal experts tell DailyMail.com massive civil suit is a virtual certainty, but say any criminal prosecution would likely focus on whoever prepared the prop gun 

By Keith Griffith for DailyMail.com 

Legal experts tell DailyMail.com lawsuits naming Alec Baldwin are a virtual certainty, but that any potential criminal charges are more likely to center on whoever loaded the gun

Legal experts tell DailyMail.com lawsuits naming Alec Baldwin are a virtual certainty, but that any potential criminal charges are more likely to center on whoever loaded the gun

Legal experts tell DailyMail.com that following Halyna Hutchins’ death, lawsuits naming Alec Baldwin are a virtual certainty, but that any potential criminal charges are more likely to center on whoever loaded the gun.

Baldwin said Friday that his killing of a cinematographer with a prop gun on a movie set was a ‘tragic accident’ as authorities investigated the shooting, which also wounded the director.

Hutchins, the cinematographer on the Western movie Rust, was killed and director Joel Souza was shot and injured on Thursday in the desert on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

A spokesperson for Baldwin said a prop gun with blanks ‘misfired’. A spokesman for the Santa Fe County sheriff said detectives were investigating what type of projectile was discharged and how. No immediate charges were filed.

Key facts in the case have not yet been publicly confirmed, including how and why a projectile was expelled. 

‘If Baldwin or another person was negligent, a civil suit is almost a no-brainer at this point — a very high likelihood,’ attorney Jamie White, who has experience in both criminal defense and civil prosecutions, told DailyMail.com.

‘It is not likely that it was Baldwin’s job to prepare props. There are other parties associated with putting those things in motion,’ he added. 

‘As the facts have thus far been presented, Baldwin will not be charged with an intentional act of violence,’ said White. 

A distraught Alec Baldwin lingers in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film Rust on the outskirts of Santa Fe

A distraught Alec Baldwin lingers in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film Rust on the outskirts of Santa Fe

A news cameraman records the entrance of the Santa Fe County Sheriff office in Santa Fe on Friday. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the Bonanza Creek Film Ranch, killing the cinematographer, officials said

A news cameraman records the entrance of the Santa Fe County Sheriff office in Santa Fe on Friday. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the Bonanza Creek Film Ranch, killing the cinematographer, officials said

‘However, it is not unheard of to be charged with significant negligence. There are a lot more facts that need to be developed, but studios take extensive cautions in light of Brandon Lee’s death in 1993,’ he said, referring to the actor killed by a squib load on the set of The Crow.

Los Angeles personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio said that as the facts that are known stand, ‘liability certainly points to Rust Movie Productions and the prop manager.’

Custodio noted that any lawsuit is likely to name Baldwin, however, due to his role as a producer of the movie as well as an actor. 

‘As the actor, Alec Baldwin has little liability because you’re given something and you’re trusting the prop manager to have checked everything out,’ he said. ‘Baldwin the producer may bear more responsibility, depending on if he is just an investor or has a more active role in the making of the film, which I suspect he does.’ 

‘Overall, this is horrible negligence and Ms. Hutchins’ survivors should go after everyone they can,’ added Custodio. ‘It’s likely they’ll go after Baldwin the actor, Baldwin the producer, the film company and the prop manager.’

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, said that criminal charges are possible in the case, but that a murder charge is unlikely. 

‘A charge of murder is unlikely because it requires the intent to kill. There is no evidence that Baldwin indeed intended to kill,’ said Rahmani.

‘A manslaughter charge might be more likely, because it does not require intent to kill, but does require criminal negligence or gross negligence,’ he added. ‘In this case, there are reports that the prop gun was loaded with live rounds. If that is true, that is grossly negligent, and whoever loaded the gun is going to be responsible.

‘Baldwin, if he had no knowledge whatsoever that the gun was loaded with a live round instead of a blank, wouldn’t have any criminal liability,’ said Rahmani.

Props expert Guillaume Delouche at Independent Studio Services holds a prop gun while explaining them in Sunland-Tujunga, Los Angeles on Friday. It's still unclear what kind of prop gun was involved in Thursday's fatal shooting

Props expert Guillaume Delouche at Independent Studio Services holds a prop gun while explaining them in Sunland-Tujunga, Los Angeles on Friday. It’s still unclear what kind of prop gun was involved in Thursday’s fatal shooting

Rahmani said that if a live round were loaded by mistake, its likely to be a case of simple negligence, which would not bring criminal liability.

‘There is a rare circumstance where there can be criminal charges without any knowledge that the round was live,’ he said.

‘That’s when there’s deliberate indifference or willful ignorance. It’s very hard to prove, which is why these types of prosecutions are rare.’

‘It comes down to what was in the gun, who put it in, and what did he or she know when they put the round in there,’ added Rahmani. ‘If it was a blank, even blanks can be dangerous when discharged at close distances. That can be grossly negligent.’

Custodio speculated that any civil suit brought by the family of Hutchins was likely to seek a large amount of damages. 

‘She was 42 and had an incredibly promising future, so her potential earnings were likely to be significant,’ he said.

‘It’s also clear that somebody failed her in the most basic way — to check whether a gun was safe — and may be criminally negligent,’ added Custodio. ‘And remember, director Joel Souza also was injured, and many others on set also are traumatized and affected by this.’    

No criminal charges have been filed in the case, but police say an active investigation is underway. Baldwin has pledged to cooperate fully with the investigation. 

Rust Productions LLC has opened an internal investigation into what happened but will not comment on the specifics. 



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