Alec Baldwin remains 'part of investigation' in film set shooting, 'too early' to comment on charges

SANTA FE, N.M. (1010 WINS) — Alec Baldwin is an “active part of the investigation” into last week’s deadly shooting on the “Rust” movie set, authorities in Santa Fe announced Wednesday as they said they’d recovered the “suspected live round” that killed a cinematographer and injured a director on the set.

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“All options are on the table at this point,” Santa Fe DA Mary Carmack-Altwies said at a noon press conference when asked if Baldwin could face charges in the shooting.

“I’m not commenting on charges, whether they will be filed or not or on whom. We cannot answer that question yet until we complete a more thorough investigation,” Carmack-Altwies said.

“We can’t say that it was negligence by whom, how many people were involved, we can’t say that with any certainty at this point,” Carmack-Altwies added, saying she will “speak to that” when the time is appropriate.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said a lead projectile—a suspected live round—was removed from the shoulder of director Joel Souza, who was wounded in the shooting. He said medical personnel removed it as Souza was being treated and turned it over to the sheriff’s office as evidence.

Mendoza said it was “apparently the same round” that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Testing is being to determine if the projectile was fired from the long Colt revolver used by Baldwin, which Mendoza said contained additional ammunition.

Alec Baldwin speaks on the phone in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office in Santa Fe, N.M., after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film "Rust" on the outskirts of Santa Fe, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021
Alec Baldwin speaks on the phone in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office in Santa Fe, N.M., after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film "Rust" on the outskirts of Santa Fe, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Photo credit Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP

Mendoza also revealed that 500 rounds of ammunition were among 600 items of evidence recovered from the set.  He noted that the ammunition was “a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting, live rounds.”

The sheriff would not comment on how the rounds got on set.

Three firearms were recovered from the set, Mendoza said. In addition to the gun at the center of the investigation, a second is a single-action revolver that "may not be functioning," while a third is a “plastic, nonfunctioning revolver.”

The sequence of events on Oct. 21 has baffled Hollywood professionals and prompted calls to better regulate firearms of sets or even ban them in the age of seamless computer-generated imagery.

Court records say that an assistant director, Dave Halls, grabbed the gun from a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating the weapon was safe by yelling “cold gun.” But it was loaded with live rounds, according to a written affidavit from a detective.

A musician plays a violin behind a photograph of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a vigil in her honor in Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021
A musician plays a violin behind a photograph of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a vigil in her honor in Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Photo credit AP Photo/Andres Leighton

Baldwin, 63, who is known for his roles in “30 Rock,” “The Departed” and “The Hunt for Red October” along with impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” has described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press prior to the news conference that the investigation is still in its early stages — far from any decisions about whether or not to file criminal charges.

She said those involved in the production were cooperating with law enforcement and that prosecutors won’t fully review evidence until the completion of an initial investigation by the sheriff’s office.

The gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or “armorer,” had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.

Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins and was wounded, told investigators there should never be live rounds present whatsoever near the scene.

The Bonanza Creek Film Ranch is seen in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021
The Bonanza Creek Film Ranch is seen in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Photo credit AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The production of “Rust” has been beset by workplace disputes from the start in early October. Hours before the shooting, several camera crew members walked off the set amid discord over working conditions, including safety procedures.

Baldwin in his role as actor appeared unlikely to be held criminally or civilly liable for the tragedy. As a producer, however, he is among a long list of associates on the film who could face some sort of liability.

Concerns have been raised about Halls' safety record by colleagues on two previous productions. Halls has not returned phone calls and email messages seeking comment.

Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is cooperating with Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and conducting its own internal review of procedures with the production shut down.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.