Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Alec Baldwin deadly shooting probe nearly finished, says sheriff

Alec Baldwin deadly shooting probe nearly finished, says sheriff
Alec Baldwin deadly shooting probe nearly finished, says sheriff

The criminal investigation into the fatal shooting on a US movie starring Alec Baldwin is "nearing completion," the officer leading the probe said Tuesday.

Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza´s comments come as his department released a trove of materials around the incident that claimed Halyna Hutchins´ life on the set of low-budget Western "Rust," including footage of Baldwin apparently practicing with the gun that killed her.

"We´ve estimated a time frame...in weeks and not months," Mendoza told broadcaster ABC.

"There´s a few things that we´re waiting for in the final FBI report in regards to the analysis of the firearm, the munitions, the latent prints and DNA.

"We´re also waiting on the office of the medical investigator to complete their report and analysis of a little bit more cell phone data."

Cinematographer Hutchins, 42, died after being hit by a live round that came from the gun Baldwin was holding as he rehearsed on the New Mexico set in October.

Baldwin, who was a producer as well as the star of the movie, had been told the gun was safe and has previously said he did not pull the trigger.

Footage released by the sheriff´s department show first responders rushing to treat Hutchins, as well as a dazed Baldwin´s first encounters with law enforcement.

Other clips, apparently from the now-abandoned movie, show the Hollywood star in period dress sitting in the pew of the wooden church and pulling out the Colt gun, which he points in the direction of the camera.

The moment of the shooting, in which director Joel Souza was also hurt, is not seen.

- Criminal charges -

Strict measures are supposed to be in place on movie sets to prevent tragedies, including the exclusive use of dummy or blank rounds in any production involving firearms.

But a health and safety probe by New Mexico officials, which levied a fine of over $136,000, said last week that producers had shown "plain indifference" to these protocols.

Mendoza said Tuesday the provenance of the live round that killed Hutchins was "one of the key questions" of the criminal probe.

"Nobody´s come forward and admitted to bringing ammunition to the set," he said.

The raft of materials includes messages from Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the young armorer who was responsible for weaponry on the set, that refer to the use of live rounds on another movie.

"That´s concerning, because it was just a few months before the production of ´Rust´ went into effect," Mendoza said. "And these are some of the same employees and people that played a role in the ´Rust´ production."

Mendoza said no decision had yet been taken on whether Baldwin would face criminal charges.

"He was the one that handled the weapon that fired the round that led to the fatality and the injury," he said.

"We´re going to work in conjunction with the (district attorney´s) office to determine if there is criminal neglect or criminal charges."

Although no criminal charges have been filed to date, there have been a series of civil suits.

Hutchins´ family has sued Baldwin and other "Rust" producers, claiming "substantial" damages for her wrongful death.

Other proceedings have been launched against producers by the movie´s chief lighting technician and script supervisor.

Gutierrez-Reed has sued the film´s ammunition supplier, accusing him of leaving real bullets among the dummy cartridges.

Baldwin told a TV interviewer in December he had been instructed by Hutchins to point the gun in her direction, and did not pull the trigger.

"I feel that someone is responsible for what happened and I can´t say who that is. "But I know it´s not me."