Santa Fe DA is ‘not ruling out criminal charges’ in Halyna Hutchins’ death

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Local Sante Fe authorities are still investigating the shooting on the set of Rust last week. Alec Baldwin was handling a loaded weapon, only he didn’t know that the gun was loaded. He was told it was a “cold” gun. During the rehearsal, he pulled the weapon twice and during the second pull, the gun went off. Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded. Incidentally, Halyna’s family has maintained that Alec Baldwin is not at fault – Alec has met with Halyna’s husband and son, and Haylna’s father has repeatedly said that Alec is not responsible for the incident, and “it is the responsibility of the props people who handle the guns.” Now the Santa Fe district attorney says that criminal charges could definitely happen:

The Santa Fe County district attorney said on Tuesday that she was not ruling out criminal charges in last week’s fatal shooting on a film set. The actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing with a gun that he had been told did not contain live ammunition when it went off, killing the film’s cinematographer and wounding its director.

“We haven’t ruled out anything,” the district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, said in a telephone interview. “Everything at this point, including criminal charges, is on the table.”

Ms. Carmack-Altwies said that the investigation was focusing on ballistics in an effort to determine what kind of round was in the gun that killed Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer — and who had placed the ammunition in the gun.

“There were an enormous amount of bullets on this set, and we need to find out what kinds they were,” Ms. Carmack-Altwies said. Detectives said that they recovered three revolvers, spent casings and ammunition — in boxes, loose and in a fanny pack — while executing a search warrant on the set, according to an inventory of the items released on Monday. The inventory did not specify what kind of ammunition was found on the set.

Ms. Carmack-Altwies took issue with descriptions of the firearm used in the incident as “prop-gun,” saying that the terminology, which is used in some of the court documents related to the case, could give the misleading impression that it was not a real gun.

“It was a legit gun,” she said, without naming specifically what kind of firearm was used. “It was an antique-era appropriate gun.”

[From The NY Times]

I take this to mean that the investigation is centered on the technical aspects of who handled the weapons and the bullets, who had access to the guns, who handed Baldwin the gun, who was keeping track of everything. My feeling is that Alec will not be criminally liable for anything. Now, will he be liable in a civil lawsuit? Perhaps, and reportedly Halyna’s widower is considering suing the production.

Meanwhile, Alec is reportedly leaning on his family during this time. Sources told People Magazine: “It’s such an unthinkable tragedy and the grief and trauma for him are unbearable. Alec is still in shock and his heart is completely broken. He is doing his best to cope and is leaning on Hilaria and the kids for support. Obviously, what happened here is devastating for everyone. Alec will need time and space to work through and process this tragedy.”

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Alec Baldwin, Hilaria Baldwin attends The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instagram.

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45 Responses to “Santa Fe DA is ‘not ruling out criminal charges’ in Halyna Hutchins’ death”

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  1. Jezz says:

    So sad

  2. Amy T says:

    Tragic all around – and a horrifying level of negligence. May Halyna’s memory be for a blessing, and may all who loved her be comforted, including Alec Baldwin.

    • Angie says:

      Do we know that Alec baldwin loved her? All I’m saying is that, if the scene called for him to hold the gun to his own head and pull the trigger – I bet he would have checked and followed proper protocol.

      • Amy T says:

        We don’t. But he still deserves comfort. As to the other, we don’t know – he was at work in the middle of production and my guess is that having spent decades relying on the competence of those around him, he may well not have checked. Or that may have been something he did on the regular, never relying on the competence of those around him. I’m not Gilda the Soothsayer, so no clue.

      • FrodoOrOdo says:

        Do you really think that?

        I’m cynical as hell but Baldwin didn’t show up on the scene last week. He’s been making movies since I was an infant and while he’s a well known ass, he’s not known to be reckless, unsafe on set, or even reckless behavior off set. He’s also not known as far as I’m aware for being impaired on set. These guys show up where they are told and for the most part do what they are told, where to stand, what to wear, how to conform to what they are told are the technical requirements of the role. Their focus is on the lines.

        There’s a lot I’m willing for believe about Alec Baldwin but I don’t believe he didn’t care about safety on set.

      • Erica says:

        It isn’t his job to check, it’s the job of the prop master or armorer. Everyone on set has a certain job to do. Gun safety protocols were not followed by the people who get paid to do those safety checks. Why is this so hard for people to understand about a movie set? This wasn’t Alec sitting around with a group of friends playing with a gun.

      • GreenQueen says:

        Agreed. Either way, you never, NEVER, point the gun at someone’s head and pull the trigger without checking the chamber. EVER. And why was it even pointed at her?? Basic gun handling skills. You don’t just trust what someone says. Everyone who is ever taught how to handle a gun knows this.

      • windyriver says:

        Actually, I read in one of the various recent articles quoting property masters/armorers that the actor using the weapon in a scene should NOT check the gun. That it violates the chain of command safety protocol for handling of that weapon, which should then be restarted. This makes sense, actually; you don’t want a likely inexperienced person checking the gun, possibly disrupting something in the way it’s set up, and causing a problem inadvertently. The armorer is the primary person responsible for handling of weapons on set for a reason, and there are established protocols, which very likely don’t include leaving several guns sitting on a tray, and having the AD hand a gun to the actor and declare it “cold”.

    • Queen Meghan's Hand says:

      Why does he deserve any comfort? This film was a vanity project for him. He co-wrote the script and produced the film. HIS set was dangerous. On HIS set, his own stunt double (!!) discharged a gun unexpectedly also thinking it was cold just days before Hutchins was killed. The camera crew walked off the set six hours before he shot Hutchins and the director. Part of their complaint: gun safety!
      It bothers me so much how people are eating up this PR spin that one of the producers who enabled this dangerous working environment and fired the staff who complained is a victim. This man is in his sixties, a baby factory, hiring surrogates during the height of the pandemic, a millionaire had no reason to not demand a safe set. And he didn’t. He is complicit. He is responsible. He should face charges.
      This is a labor issue.

      • FrodoOrOdo says:

        All those things can be true AND he’s still a human being with a person’s death on his conscience. It’s a bit like hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk on a foggy day, driving a car with faulty breaks, at an unsafe intersection, on little sleep, etc. There are a lot of factors that could have prevented this from happening, some others there was little to no control over, all of them creating a perfect storm that caused the death of someone.

        What kind of person doesn’t feel even a twinge of sympathy for him?

        And what does his age, family, etc have to do with any of it?

      • Jess says:

        I agree with you, Queen. While it doesn’t seem like Alec is liable as an actor, as producer he sure seems to be. It’s becoming more clear every day how this was a production that prioritized saving money at the expense of everything else, even after there were problems in the set, and if Alec wants a producer title then he bears some of that responsibility.

      • Amy T says:

        “It bothers me so much how people are eating up this PR spin that one of the producers who enabled this dangerous working environment and fired the staff who complained is a victim. This man is in his sixties, a baby factory, hiring surrogates during the height of the pandemic, a millionaire had no reason to not demand a safe set. And he didn’t. He is complicit. He is responsible. He should face charges.
        This is a labor issue.”

        Multiple things can be true at the same time. It’s not PR spin that he killed someone without intending to do so in a single and irrevocable moment. The rest – that will come out, and whatever he was or wasn’t responsible for, he gets to live with this very public reality. For that, he deserves comfort. Full stop.

      • Queen Meghan's Hand says:

        @FrodoOrOdo Your car example would be equivalent if the person driving the car with faulty breaks was an executive at the car manufacturer who okay’d shipping those cars with faulty breaks while knowing the danger. Or if the person driving the car at the dangerous intersection was the Head of Department of Transportation and had just struck down a redesign plan to make that intersection safer.
        That’s the PR spin: erasing Baldwin’s power and responsibility in this production. Baldwin deserves nothing from me and other people stuck in bad, dangerous jobs in order to support their families. He enabled and allowed a flat out, by every account, dangerous production to continue.
        Both things can be true: He feels bad for killing a person AND He has deployed his team to mitigate the damage to his career, reputation, and millions. That’s why there are quotes from his camp in People Magazine on how he’s doing.

      • Case says:

        Because he accidentally took someone’s life and will have to carry that with him forever. I’m no fan of the guy and clearly mistakes were made all along the chain of command, but some compassion and humanity would be nice here.

      • Kathryn K. says:

        Agree!

      • Queen Meghan's Hand says:

        @Case I don’t understand how acknowledging his power and responsibility on the deadly vanity project he produced demonstrates a lack of compassion and humanity. Are people cruel for pointing that out? Am I cruel for not empathizing with the employer who killed his employee?
        And respectfully, we have no idea if he will live with this forever. We just know from his publicist that he feels badly now. But we do know who will: Halyna’s son.

      • Christina says:

        @Queen, I get what you are saying. The thing is that movie sets are already weird. Did he know that they were using the gun for shooting fun before the scene? Also, people are notoriously terrified to complain on a movie set. That the Union folks walked off should have been a big concern for him. But I can see the other producers keeping information about how bad it was from him. That is typical on the industry: people don’t want to suffer consequences, so they don’t push the information up.

        Baldwin was on the set as an actor. He’s a producer, but that was not his role on set. Based on what I know about the business, the assistant director just wanted to finish along with all the others, and he and the others who were “in charge” on set were negligent. Baldwin’s production company will likely be held liable with the others.

        You are correct: this is a labor issue. The thing is, Baldwin’s shitty personality has nothing to do with it. He trusted the wrong people, people who were willing to cut corners. He will now pay for the rest of his life. He doesn’t strike me as somebody who will get over this quickly. He’s anti-gun politically for a reason.

        Also, Halyna trusted just like Baldwin did. Did everyone understand and know about the prior misfires? A lot gets hidden from individuals on movie sets. Its an awful environment for anyone not on top, unless you are lucky enough to work with people who have smaller egos, like what appears to be the experience for a lot of the cast and crew of the externals and Shang Chi. The camaraderie on those sets was celebrated because it is so rare.

      • nicobel says:

        Queen, agree. He is a deeply unpleasant person more famous for his temper and his esposa loca than for his acting. That said, if he were *just* an actor showing up to do his day job, I would have a hard time blaming him for the lack of safety protocols on set. But that wasn’t the case. He was a producer, writer and star of the movie – arguably the most powerful person on set and certainly someone who would be considered management. He watched unionized workers walk out due in part to safety concerns, witnessed an earlier gun “mishap” and chose to do nothing. Without question he bears some responsibility for the unsafe working conditions.

      • bella says:

        he was *A* producer, not *THE* producer. He was not an executive producer. That wasn’t his level of involvement.

        I cannot stand him, but this is not on him

      • Case says:

        @Queen I just think you’re making this a very good guy/bad guy issue when it is more complex than that. Yes, it is a labor issue. Yes, Baldwin’s production company will likely be liable here, and no, you’re not incorrect for identifying his personal responsibility here. But 1) many actors are literally named as producers in name only — that’s very common recently, in fact, and 2) that day on set he was there as an actor — there was a chain of command in place, and he trusted the people who were meant to check the weapons before being handed to the actors. To suggest he won’t carry this with him — sorry, KILLING SOMEONE? Come on. I believe if almost anyone accidentally killed someone, they would feel deep, unrelenting remorse for the rest of their lives. I highly doubt it’s just that his PR person feels bad. Suggesting anything of the sort absolutely does display a lack of compassion here.

      • Ashby says:

        Yes and no.

        Why was any LIVE ammunition around at all ?

        Why did Alec point the gun at her ?

        As a producer how much responsibility does Alec have for the working environment, set conditions, safety…?

        Maybe Alec is taking on questionable jobs that he wouldn’t have before, but has a small army of kids to raise now and has to think about how to pay for college.

        I will never understand why people have more than 2 children, regardless of just money, it’s a huge responsibility to raise kids to be good human beings one day.

        In my opinion Alec seems to be a real jerk, but I feel sorry for him to have to live with the knowledge of killing someone, nothing compared to how sorry I feel for the poor woman, her family and friends.

        I hope at least the family can get some money, so they don’t have to worry about money to live from, it will not bring her back, nothing will, but they enough to deal with, so hopefully they won’t have to worry about cash.

  3. FrodoOrOdo says:

    I feel awful for Halyna’s family. I cannot imagine how they feel. But I also cannot fathom how Alec Baldwin is feeling right now. I don’t how you work through something like that. I hope he’s seeing a therapist.

  4. Izzy says:

    Considering the reports that people were using the gun with live rounds for target practice, criminal charges would not be unreasonable here. Perhaps not against Alec himself, but SOMEONE put that round in the gun and someone should have checked it.

  5. Queen Meghan's Hand says:

    A white boomer multi-millionaire with seven children and a wife who pretends they have no domestic employees, enables a dangerous set during a pandemic. No COVID safety protocols. No gun safety protocols. Either explicitly or implicitly, he greenlights firing the union employees who protest and then hours after kills a young woman immigrant with a toddler child at home.
    I get so angry and sad about Halyna Hutchins’ death because it is a cruel metaphor for our times. It’s just not fair that her life has been cut short for a millionaire’s greed and vanity.

    • Renee says:

      Queen Meghan’s Hand, I agree with your sentiment. While I do have empathy for Alec Baldwin ,in that he unknowingly ended someone’s life and must feel absolutely horrible about that, he also enabled the unsafe conditions. Alec also fired union workers to hire non-union workers AND hired the asst director who had been fired on previous films for unsafe conditions.

      • bella says:

        They walked off set , they didn’t get fired and Baldwin is not an executive producer, he is one of 12 people who get “producer credit” for a number of possible reasons, like giving up a lot of salary for backend $$ yet have no other producer responsibilities

  6. Qzie says:

    I still don’t understand why any production, ever would need live ammo on set. I understand that you might need to see a bullet enter a surface, but so much can be done with CGI (and I’ve learned even more since reading about this—and the capabilities of adding “after fire” and realistic bullet impact all done by digital wizards) why on earth would there ever be the need for live ammo?

    This is the first place I’ve read that the crew may have been doing target practice, ie having fun with guns/shooting. Unbelievable if true, and criminal charges would happen. That kind of behavior should NEVER be allowed. Sickening that it could have contributed to the death of an incredible woman.

    • Queen Meghan's Hand says:

      RE: the target practice. That has not been reported in the LA Times, it’s from TMZ. Because of the source, I don’t believe it. It sounds like the production company is trying to obfuscate the sourcing of the weapons. Did they ask some crew bring their own weapons? If so, did the armorer follow industry protocol and check the weapons?

    • Lila says:

      Totally agree about shifting to CGI. Even if the technology isn’t great now, if every studio was throwing money and their best people at the problem, I’m sure the technology would catch up quickly. And from a human standpoint…I don’t care how fake the gunfire looks, I would much rather see that than ‘realistic’ scenes that put REAL people’s lives in danger to film.

    • KASalvy says:

      I work in the industry (and on sets regularly) there is ZERO reason for live rounds to be on set. Absolutely no excuse. Sorry, but this does rest on the armorer not doing her job, no matter who hired her.

  7. Eurydice says:

    The more details come out, the worse this story gets. It’s a massive management failure. The AD had been fired from a prior job because of safety issues. An inexperienced armorer. Guns lying around, crew members target shooting for laughs, bullets strewn here and there, the actual prop gun misfiring 2-3 times, every single gun protocol seems to have been violated. And the camera crew walking off the set because of safety concerns.

    So, I feel sorry for the cinematographer’s family and sympathy for Alec who was holding the gun at the time, but there’s a bunch of producers, including Alec, who were supposed to be in charge of this show. This is like an industrial accident, if a factory blows up, we don’t say that management isn’t at fault.

  8. Merricat says:

    I believe in due process.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Merricat, as do I. They are very early into the investigation and more information will be put out. We need more details before we make judgement.

      As for Halyna’s family, I have nothing but the utmost sympathy and empathy for their loss. She was apparently very passionate about her craft and her career. No child should have to grow up without their mother. I hope that her husband is able to weather this tragedy and one day find peace and justice. That is what needs to result in the killing of Haylna and the shooting of Souza.

      Given what I have read so far, it was the lack of experience and safety issues with regards to the firearm expert, or her lack of, that’s most troubling to me. It created a cocktail of unnecessary tragedy that will hopefully create new restrictions with regards to gun use on film, or any other industry, as it’s too easy for a unintentional victim to be harmed or killed unnecessarily.

  9. msd says:

    I’m doubtful criminal charges will be pressed but Halyna’s widower should absolutely sue either way. It was an avoidable death. Serious negligence was involved. The buck stops with the movie bosses. That may include Baldwin as a producer, too.

    Nothing will change unless film companies lose money. Only money will scare them into taking safety seriously.

    There’s been a lot of attention on the first AD and the armorer (both of whom do appear to have screwed up) but penny pinching from above and cutting corners created a dangerous working environment.

    • ME says:

      The AD was fired from a movie back in 2019 for safety reasons. He should never have been hired for this movie. The armorer was a nepotism hire who also lacked the experience for this movie. These two were the ones responsible for the gun safety and most likely hold the blame.

      • Jenn says:

        @ME I read that Buzzfeed News article linked in yesterday’s roundup, and the first AD Dave Halls was ultimately fired from a set in 2019 when *someone was accidentally shot*. That’s a pretty major whoopsie.

        The same article also asserted that ensuring set safety is the first AD’s responsibility. Accounts from on-set suggest Halls actually circumvented the armorer’s authority, grabbed the gun (possibly the wrong one, from a cart or table??), and announced “cold gun” as he passed it to Baldwin without actually letting any safety check occur (because time is money).

      • Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

        @Jenn My god every detail that is confirmed about this production is more horrific than the last. How was the AD’s career not over? People like Ray Fisher are blacklisted for reporting abuse and safety issues meanwhile David Halls was working steadily after someone got shot on his set. How many ADs, armorers, stunt coordinators have endangered lives but are still working because they’re white and connected?

  10. Willow says:

    What is this PR spin that Alec has no responsibility? He’s supposed to be an experienced veteran actor. Why didn’t he notice the gun safety violations on set? Even if he was told it was a ‘cold gun’ apparently there was supposed to be a plexiglass shield in front of the camera and staff in the room should have had safety gear on to protect them from an accidental discharge. If he cared, he would have never pulled the gun out of the holster after noticing those obvious mistakes.
    So he is either a veteran actor with lots of knowledge about making movies and therefore would know something was wrong or he’s just a clueless actor with a temper who was told ‘cold gun’ and did nothing wrong. Which is it?

    • Coco says:

      Alec being a veteran actor dose not qualify him on being an armorer. That’s the sole purpose purpose of having an armorer inset. Alec was also not the director who was directing the practice seen without any of these protocols in place.

  11. ME says:

    There is a lot coming out about the 24 year old armorer. She let her drunk boyfriend borrow her motorcycle. He went riding drunk with another friend who was also drunk and had a previous DUI. The friend crashed his motorcycle and died. Her judgement is f*cked up. Why would you give the keys to your motorcycle to a guy who is drunk ? You thought it was a good idea to see these two drunk guys chase each other on motorcycles or whatever they were doing? Her insurance paid out 50 thousand dollars to the guys family and that was the end of it (they promised they wouldn’t sue her).

  12. Amber says:

    Obviously Alec Baldwin had no idea the gun was loaded with live ammunition. That seems clear enough to me. However, if he’s a producer on this movie, then the safety conditions on the set are his responsibility to a certain degree. I do think he and the other producers should be held liable for a work environment that was so unsafe, the crew walked off set because of it, hours before a preventable death.

  13. Gubbinal says:

    And the Nicholas Cage story: https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/rust-armorer-made-nicolas-cage-storm-off-set-firing-gun-without-warning

    should have gained traction; should have been analyzed in greater detail. When a person has a propensity for shooting rounds randomly, should that person be allowed to continue in the industry? Under what circumstances? Cage complained about her in August—only 2 months ago.

    • ME says:

      Yet she was hired to do another movie? During the podcast she did, she said there were no issues on the set of the first movie she did (Nic Cage movie). So she was lying? She’s only done two movies right? This Alec Baldwin one and the Nic Cage one right? Just another reason why nepotism jobs shouldn’t exist.

    • Tourmaline says:

      I’m sure she was willing to work for cheaper than an actual experienced and skilled armorer, which was all that mattered to the producers of this film.