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New Mexico Prosecutor Has Not Ruled Out Charges in ‘Rust’ Shooting

The New Mexico prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the “Rust” shooting said Friday that she is “exploring various legal theories” in the case, and has not ruled out any criminal charges.

Mary Carmack-Altwies, the district attorney for New Mexico’s First Judicial District, issued a statement apparently in response to Alec Baldwin’s interview on ABC on Thursday, in which the actor said he did not think he would be charged criminally in the case.

“Everyone involved in the handling and use of firearms on the set had a duty to behave in a manner such that the safety of others was protected, and it appears that certain actions and inactions contributed to this outcome,” Carmack-Altwies said in the statement. “Once I have had the opportunity to review the complete investigation, certain individuals may be criminally culpable for his/her actions and/or inactions on the set of ‘Rust.’”

Baldwin gave an in-depth interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, in which he explained in some detail why he does not believe he is responsible for the Oct. 21 shooting that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin was holding the Colt .45 revolver, which he believed was “cold,” meaning it contained only dummy rounds. He said he aimed it toward Hutchins because she was trying to get a particular camera angle. As he did so, he said he pulled the hammer back to cock it, and let go of the hammer and the gun went off. He said he did not pull the trigger, and was stunned to realize, only much later, that the gun contained a live round.

Baldwin said he had been informed by “people in the know” that it was “highly unlikely” that he would be charged.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has repeatedly interviewed Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the 24-year-old armorer on the film, who loaded the gun that day. Detectives have also interviewed Dave Halls, the first assistant director, who retrieved the gun from Gutierrez Reed and gave it to Baldwin, declaring it “cold.”

Lane Luper, the camera operator who walked off set with six others shortly before the shooting, also issued a statement on Thursday through his attorney, Jacob G. Vigil, responding to Baldwin.

“Guns don’t just go off,” Luper said in the statement. “The single action Colt .45 revolver handled by Alec Baldwin required multiple active steps to discharge and kill Halyna Hutchins. The gun had to be loaded with live ammunition, held and pointed, the hammer of the weapon manually cocked, and the trigger pulled. It was not a magic self-firing weapon. Alec Baldwin, David Halls, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and the producers of ‘Rust’ are attempting to avoid personal responsibility through unfounded claims and scripted narrative.”

In the interview, Baldwin said he was unaware of any safety concerns prior to the shooting, and pushed back on claims that the production had “cut corners.” He also described himself as a “creative producer,” and said he was not responsible for hiring the crew.

Luper reiterated his allegations that the producers had created a hazardous condition on set.

“The production and its producers, including Baldwin, cut corners and endangered their entire crew by failing to follow industry safety rules,” he said in the statement. “The safety rules have been widely circulated and include holding safety meetings prior to any activity involving firearms, refraining from pointing a firearm at anyone, NEVER placing a finger on the trigger until ready to shoot, NEVER laying down a firearm or leaving one unattended, removing suspected malfunctioning firearms from the set, thoroughly checking firearms every time they are handed to an actor, and ensuring all crew are a safe distance from any weapon firing area. The production failed to follow these rules.”

Investigators have lately focused on determining the source of the live rounds that were found on set. Investigators served a search warrant in Albuquerque on Tuesday, seizing ammunition and records from PDQ Arm & Prop, which supplied some — though not all — of the ammunition used on the film.

Investigators have sent the rounds that were seized on set to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va., for analysis. Once the investigation is complete, which could still be weeks away, detectives will present the evidence to the district attorney’s office for consideration of charges.

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