Alec Baldwin was practicing a “cross draw” in a church pew that required pointing his weapon at the camera during the prop gun mishap that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead.
Two new witness accounts made public by the Sante Fe Sheriff’s Office on Sunday night describe the moment the 42-year-old director of photography was shot inside the church building on the New Mexico set of the film “Rust.”
Baldwin was rehearsing the gun-retrieval method from a pew of the mock church at Bonanza Creek Ranch when he aimed at the camera, while both Hutchins and 48-year-old director, Joel Souza stood behind it.
Souza then says he heard a “loud pop” and realized both him and Hutchins were bleeding. He had been shot in shoulder, Hutchins in the chest.
The director told investigators that he remembered hearing the phrase “cold-gun” while preparing for the scene, indicating the firearm wasn’t loaded and was safe for use, but he couldn’t remember if the gun, described as a “revolver” in the records, had been checked after the crew returned from a lunch break before the incident happened.
The fatal mishap happened during a tense day on-set following numerous issues between the crew and the production team overseeing the film.
Russel told police that filming was behind schedule that day and he “had much work to complete” after six members of the camera crew walked off the set in the morning following “issues with production involving payment and housing."
He added the crew that had walked off, who were reportedly replaced with non-union workers...
“[Souza] said once they hired another camera crew to assist, the day was taking longer than usual because they only had one camera to do the filming.”
Filmmakers have traditionally used real guns on movie sets but load them with blanks instead of real bullets to avoid a similar mishap.
Production on the film has been halted amid an investigation on the shooting and an “absolutely devastated” Alec Baldwin is reportedly taking time off from his other projects.
NOW, this tragedy could have serious legal consequences for Baldwin, according to legal experts, including negligent manslaughter charges.
Because he’s an executive producer on the film, he’s in a position of control, and therefore could be prosecuted criminally.
One lawyer out of LA says, “It’s the equivalent of drinking and driving, meaning someone may not have intended to cause great harm but they do.”
Another attorney telling the NY Post, “All the state needs to demonstrate is that he was engaged in a lawful, but dangerous act and did not act with due caution.That’s what the state has to prove for involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison.”
She speculated that Baldwin may rely on the defense that someone handed him the gun, “but then, well it was incumbent upon him, since he was handling the gun, to make sure there were no rounds.”
She said, “Clearly someone didn’t do their due diligence. They should have been checking those guns to make sure there were no live rounds."
Sources: NY Post, People, MSNBC.
Photo Credit: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for National Geographic. .