Alec Baldwin: He Didn't Pull Trigger, Gun Went Off On Its Own

From the first I heard about the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust movie set, I suspected that the gun Alec Baldwin was holding in the "church pew" discharged on its own as he was practicing the "cross-body move" he was supposed to make with it. Many news accounts were pretty sketchy on whether he pulled the trigger or intended to pull the trigger.

In an interview to be broadcast on ABC with George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin gives his first detailed interview on the shooting.

Asked .... how a real bullet got on the "Rust" set, Alec Baldwin says: “I have no idea. Someone put a live bullet in a gun. A bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property.”

He also says the scene he was practicing didn't call for the shooting of the weapon. There would be no reason for him to practice shooting with it, and he would never point a gun at someone and pull the trigger.

There is new evidence in the case. Yesterday, the Santa Fe Sheriff's Office executed its fourth search warrant, this time on the business of Seth Kenney, who supplied the ammunition for the movie. You can read the Affidavit for the warrant here. [More...]

On October 27, 2021, a search warrant was executed for a prop truck at the Bonanza Creek Ranch. Seth Kenney was present during the search due to a gun safe in the truck needing a code to be unlocked. Affiant spoke to Seth about the various kinds of ammunition he provided to the set of Rust. Seth advised the ammo included dummy rounds and blanks. He said how the ammunition he provides to the productions are from a manufacturer identified as Starline Brass.

On October 29, 2021, Affiant received a phone call from Seth, where he advised he may know where the live rounds came from. Seth described how a couple years back, he received "reloaded ammunition" from a friend. Seth described the ammunition stuck out to him due to the suspected live round to have a cartridge with the Starline Brass logo on it. Seth described the logo to be a star, an arch, and then another star. He described how the company only sells components of ammunition, and not live ammunition, therefore it had to be a reloaded round.

Armorer Hannah Guiterrez-Reed told the Sheriff Deputies that she or the prop master Sarah picked up the ammo from Seth Kenney's business. Then on November 15, 2021, Hannah's father, long-time movie armorer Thell Reed provided a statement to the Sheriff's. On November 17, the Affiant for the warrant called Reed to discuss his statement. Reed told her:

[Reed] advised in the August/September time frame, he worked on a set with Seth Kenney. Thell advised during the production, there was training provided to the actors for live fire with firearms, conducted on a firearms range. Thell said at this time, Seth requested he bring live ammunition in the event they ran out of what was supplied.

Thell stated he did bring an "ammo can" with live ammunition from a friend, and this ammunition was not factory made rounds. He advised there was approximately 200-300 rounds in the can, and described the can to be green in color and looked like a military ammo can.

Thell advised after the production ended, Seth took the ammo can and the remainder of the ammunition in the can back to New Mexico. He said the can still had .45 caliber colt ammunition in it, and after several attempts to get it back from Seth, Seth advised Thell to "write it off." Thell stated this ammunition may match the ammunition found on the set of Rust.

The Affidavit also contains these details from an interview with Hannah:

Hannah stated they [she and Sarah Zachry] got on set around 7:30 AM, but didn't dummy the gun up until a short time before lunch.

...Hannah advised when they all returned from lunch, Sarah pulled the gun out of the safe (the gun utilized by Alec) and handed it to her. Affiant asked Hannah if she loaded the gun after lunch, to which she stated it was already loaded before they went to lunch.

Affiant asked Hannah to clarify where the guns were located before lunch, to which she responded they were inside with the camera crew, and she was hardly allowed inside due to COVID precautions. Hannah advised she handed the gun to Alec (Baldwin) a couple times in the morning inside the set. Hannah ...advised she handed the gun off to Dave [Hall] while he was sitting in, and this hand off occurred after lunch.

So the gun was loaded just before lunch, but she had given it to Alec a few times in the morning inside the set -- the set she was rarely allowed in due to COVID?

Hannah also adds this new and perhaps relevant detail:

Hannah...advised she loaded the gun with 5 dummy rounds before lunch. Hannah stated there was one round that wouldn't go in so after lunch she took the cleaner, cleaned "it" out, and put another round in, which brought the total to six rounds loaded in the weapon. Hannah described the gun to be a long barrel Colt, .45 caliber.

...She stated the guns were checked on set, however she "didn't really check it too much" (the firearm), due to it being locked up at lunch. Hannah said after she did the check, she put in the last round.

Why did she think she had to add a 6th round when the scene didn't call for the gun to be fired ?

Sarah was interviewed the day of the shooting. The Affiant says she rewatched Sarah's interview:

In Sarah's interview she advised after the incident, she went to check the box of ammo on the props cart and compare it to the round she was handed which was the suspected live round from the fired gun. Sarah said when she was comparing it to other cartridges in the box, she found some of the cartridges would rattle, which signified them being "dummy rounds," however, others did not rattle. Sarah said this lead [sic] her to believe some of the other rounds in that box were live ammo.

In the interview, Sarah advised the ammunition for Rust was provided from various sources, to include Seth Kenney, some Hannah brought from a previous production, and extra rounds from an individual identified as "Billy Ray."

So this new warrant is for Seth Kenney's business. One item that doesn't quite match up: Seth told them he received the can a few years ago, and Thell Reid says Kenney took it from a set they were working on a few months ago.

The civil lawsuits have already been filed. Rust did have insurance so the insurance company's lawyers and the plaintiffs' lawyers and probably a few private lawyers hired by individual defendants will battle it all out and arrive at a settlement. There's some good information on the types of insurance policies available here.

While most film production insurance policies are a cocktail of General Liability, Workers’ Comp, and equipment coverage, some productions require special insurance policies, insuring everything from stunts to drones.

Added onto your existing annual or short term production insurance policy, special film production insurance policies cover a wide swath of elements, including:... Stunts, Weapons...Props [see linked article for additional available special add-ons]

Alec Baldwin's film company, El Dorado Pictures, is producing or co-producing Rust.

El Dorado Pictures is home to actor Alec Baldwin. El Dorado Pictures develops scripted and unscripted projects under the ABC Studios banner. The production company’s development executive, Mallory Schwartz, oversees the production slate and Baldwin is the executive producer.

What kind of add-on insurance did Rust have? This is apparently the actual policy they took out.

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  • Display: Sort:
    All films I've ever worked on (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by fishcamp on Wed Dec 01, 2021 at 07:20:04 PM EST
    that had POV gunshots were set up with a remote start camera rig.  No one ever stood behind the camera for that type of film shot.  The cameraman was way off to the side activating the camera.  Something dangerous and so far unknown  happened on the Rust film.

    The gun was not (none / 0) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 11:29:38 AM EST
    to be fired during the shot.  That was not the plan.  

    I have not really been following this, I hate when people say that and then share their opinion, that said, it seems to me the question is why was there a live bullet.  Period.

    Why was a live bullet even on the set.


    For that matter, (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 03:04:31 PM EST
    if the scene did not call for any shooting, why even load the pistol at all?

    "Why was a live bullet even on the set." (none / 0) (#8)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 04:18:23 PM EST
    Lots of theories.

    Short answer: "By mistake."


    Or, by other theories: (none / 0) (#9)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 04:19:13 PM EST
    "On purpose."

    By mistake (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 04:21:34 PM EST
    would be a why. I guess.  On purpose still needs a why.

    You should google the theories (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 04:32:26 PM EST
    some of them would make a good screenplay.

    My guess (none / 0) (#12)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 04:54:27 PM EST
    knowing nothing about it really is human error.

    I agree (none / 0) (#13)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 08:10:42 PM EST
    Jeralyn (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 11:21:06 AM EST
    I (Jeralyn) suspected that the gun Alec Baldwin was holding in the "church pew" discharged on its own

    No way. Guns do not discharge on their own. A Colt 45 revolver takes concerted physical effort to shoot. The trigger was pulled.

    You probably know (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 11:23:30 AM EST
    Baldwin is saying he did not pull the trigger.

    Reuter's (none / 0) (#4)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Dec 02, 2021 at 11:25:09 AM EST
    the same thing.

    Meaning what, exactly? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Yman on Tue Dec 07, 2021 at 04:33:49 PM EST
    He's lying? ... and you would also lie under those circumstances?

    He is either mistaken or lying (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 07, 2021 at 07:05:51 PM EST
    and hell yes.

    "The trigger was pulled" (none / 0) (#16)
    by Yman on Tue Dec 07, 2021 at 04:48:13 PM EST
    Says who?  Not Baldwin - corroborated by the Assistant Director who handed him the gun.

    Torraco, Halls' attorney, corroborated Baldwin's account on Thursday, saying Halls told her "from day one" that he was watching from three or four feet away and "the entire time Baldwin had his finger outside the trigger guard parallel to the barrel ... that Alec did not pull that trigger."

    Baldwin clearly stated he didn't pull the trigger, but cocked the hammer.

    To get the shot, Baldwin said he needed to cock the gun, but not fire it: "The trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger."

    Gun in hand, Baldwin said he and Hutchins began blocking out the scene. She was directing his every move, he said: "Everything is at her direction."

    "This was a marking rehearsal," Baldwin said. "And [Hutchins] says to me, `Hold the gun lower. Go to your right. Okay, right there. All right, do that. Now show it a little bit lower.' And she's getting me to position the gun."

    "She's guiding me through how she wants me to hold the gun for this angle," he said. "I'm holding the gun where she told me to hold it, which ended up being aimed right below her armpit."


    "I cock the gun. I go, `Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?'" Baldwin said. "And then I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off. I let go of the hammer of the gun, the gun goes off."

    "So, you never pulled the trigger?" Stephanopoulos asked.

    "No, no, no, no, no," Baldwin said. "I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them."

    drops the hammer on the bullet.

    Simply dropping the hammer does not clear the safety, thus the hammer cannot reach the bullet.


    Cool story (none / 0) (#20)
    by Yman on Tue Dec 07, 2021 at 08:20:25 PM EST
    The gun was identified by the sheriff as a F.lli Pietta Long Colt 45, which has several versions, some of which have a transfer bar safety and some of which do not.

    Cool story (none / 0) (#21)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Dec 08, 2021 at 11:26:19 AM EST
    The trigger releases the cocked hammer which then drops and fires the round.

    The cocked hammer cannot drop if it has not released by the trigger.


    My limited experience with single-action revolvers (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jack E Lope on Tue Dec 07, 2021 at 04:40:54 PM EST
    ...tells me that the trigger doesn't have to be moved in order to fire.  I have not used a Colt army-pattern single-action, so my experience may not apply to that.

    Striking the hammer can ignite a round that is under the hammer.  Dropping the gun can ignite the round that is under the hammer.  The usual advice for a loaded SA revolver is to keep the chamber under the hammer empty unless you intend to use the gun immediately - not leaving your hand until at least one round has been fired.  (Then, you have a spent round under the hammer.)

    If the trigger is held in place and the hammer is pulled back then released, it can fire - even if you had an empty chamber before you pulled the hammer back.  "Fanning" uses this, um, feature of, single-action (SA) revolvers.  

    When I recently heard that Alec Baldwin says he did not pull the trigger, but he cocked the hammer and it fell, I pictured him not noticing that he was gripping the gun in a way that held the trigger in place.  

    (Some?) newer SA revolver designs have added mechanisms that avoid these problems with leaving a round under the hammer.  But I think there are newly-manufactured replicas of the Colt SA which still use the original design.

    Sounds about right to me. (none / 0) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 07, 2021 at 07:12:16 PM EST
    Reportedly they were using replica (none / 0) (#26)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Dec 20, 2021 at 09:02:15 AM EST

    I've seen no reporting on whether the hammer had a firing pin to strike the cartridge or was sans a firing pin to strike a transfer bar.

    In the ABC interview (none / 0) (#22)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 14, 2021 at 01:42:16 PM EST
    he says he trained with the Rust armorer shooting the guns. I would expect this to be the source of the live round he ultimately fired on set.

    NM police serve search warrant (none / 0) (#23)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 17, 2021 at 04:24:55 PM EST
    for Baldwin's cell phone: Warrant

    If my understanding is correct, the warrant is issued due to probable cause of it being used in the commission of a crime?

    I can't imagine the police think he intentionally shot the gun, but maybe they think he did something illegal regarding the investigation following the shooting?

    Contrary to common misconception, (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Peter G on Mon Dec 20, 2021 at 06:23:46 PM EST
    a proper search warrant does not require any proof that the person whose property (or whose body, for that matter) is to be searched has committed or even has involvement in committing a crime. It requires probable cause to believe that contraband, a fugitive or missing person, or evidence of a crime will be found in the place to be searched at the time of the search. That standard does not require any culpable involvement of the person whose property it is.

    Thanks. Makes sense. (none / 0) (#28)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 21, 2021 at 12:45:10 PM EST
    Negligence (none / 0) (#24)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sat Dec 18, 2021 at 03:32:22 PM EST
    Whatever the state of the trigger, Baldwin pointed a fully functional firearm at another human being without taking the few seconds needed to ensure it was loaded with blanks.

    The safest blanks have a bullet in the case, but no primer or powder.  All it takes on that firearm is to open the loading gate and rotate the cylinder 360 to ensure no bullet has a primer to ensure safety.

    Image (none / 0) (#25)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sat Dec 18, 2021 at 03:37:40 PM EST