Alec Baldwin, gunsmith charged in connection with fatal shooting on film set: ‘No one is above the law’

After more than two years of investigating and weighing the evidence, a New Mexico District Attorney has decided to charge both Alec Baldwin and a member of the crew with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the fatal shooting on the set of upcoming western film Rust.

In October 2021, Baldwin sat on a bench in one mock church on the film set at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe when he decided to practice with the gun he was using on the film. He was about to attempt a cross-draw maneuver, a move that an attorney for gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed called “dangerous”.

While rehearsing the cross draw, Baldwin allegedly drew a gun and fired a single shot directly at the camera. That bullet struck both the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42, and director, Joel Souza, 49. Hutchins was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she later died from her injuries. Souza was treated in the hospital and later released.

Baldwin has repeatedly denied pull trigger of the gun and claimed that it must have malfunctioned. The FBI then repeatedly tested the gun and found that in most cases it would not fire unless a person cocked it first and pulled the trigger. However, investigators had one case where internal components of the gun ruptured, causing the cocked gun to fire even though the trigger had not been pulled.

Baldwin has also blamed crew members for the shooting, notably Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of guns and armories on set, and assistant director David Halls, who presented Baldwin with the gun. Last November, Baldwin filed a lawsuit against Gutierrez-Reed and Halls and two other crew members. Halls has already agreed plead guilty negligent use of a deadly weapon in connection with the shooting.

However, New Mexico’s first district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, has ruled that Halls is not the only person responsible for Hutchins’ death. She has now charged both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

“After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew,” said Carmack-Altwies. “During my tenure, no one is above the law and everyone deserves justice.”

Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed face “alternative” charges, meaning a jury will decide whether they are guilty and, if so, what definition of involuntary manslaughter they are guilty of. The crime itself carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine, but either definition of involuntary manslaughter also involves a firearm upgrade that would add another five years to the sentence.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will each receive a preliminary hearing within 60 days to determine whether to proceed to a jury trial.

Since filming began, questions have surfaced about how live rounds on set came about in the first place, and Carmack-Altwies previously said the answer to those questions “would be one of the most important factors enter into an indictment decision.”

According to the affidavit, Gutierrez-Reed insisted to police that “live ammunition is never kept on set.” Thell Reed, Gutierrez-Reed’s father and himself a longtime Hollywood gunsmith, later admitted to police that ammunition once in his possession “could match ammunition found on the set of ‘Rust’.” reported ABC News. Souza, the director of “Rust,” later recalled that someone referred to the gun given to Baldwin as a “cold gun,” a term meaning safe or unloaded.

“Review of available law enforcement reports found no convincing evidence that the firearm on set was intentionally loaded with live ammunition,” the New Mexico lead medical investigator wrote after performing a post-mortem on Hutchins. “Based on all available information, including a lack of apparent intent to cause harm or death, the mode of death is best classified as accidental.”

Hutchins was a married mother of one child. Originally born in Ukraine, she came to America to further her career in cinematography. Her family has since settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Baldwin last October. Although the financial details of the settlement were not disclosed, Matthew Hutchins, the victim’s widower, will be named as executive producer on a film, although it’s unclear if he will be named executive producer on the planned film “Rust,” which is scheduled to begin filming this month to continue.

In fact, the entire cast and crew, with the notable exception of Hutchins, are expected to return to the set, including Souza, the director. No charges have been filed in connection with Souza’s injuries.

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Laura Coffey

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