The gun used in an apparently accidental shooting at the “Rust” film set in New Mexico was used hours before for live ammunition target practice, according to a source with knowledge of the set.
The source told The Wrap that crew members bored on the set of the western “Rust” would take stage guns to go “plinking,” or loading the guns with live ammunition to take shots beer cans in the New Mexico desert. One of the guns used in such a pastime eventually ended up in the hands of actor Alec Baldwin, who is starring in and producing “Rust,” before he fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. According to The Wrap:
The gun that killed “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last Thursday was used by crew members that morning for live-ammunition target practice, an individual with knowledge of the set told TheWrap.
A number of crew members had taken prop guns from the New Mexico set of the indie Western — including the gun that killed Hutchins — to go “plinking,” a hobby in which people shoot at beer cans with live ammunition to pass the time, the insider said.
The shooting happened just a few hours later, when lead actor and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a revolver after first assistant director David Halls confirmed that it was a “cold gun,” meaning that the gun did not have any live ammunition in it.
Baldwin and other members of the crew are facing potential legal trouble ahead in Hutchins’ death. How much each person is liable is up for debate and may rely on facts yet to be uncovered, however.
Baldwin, who has been interviewed by authorities over the incident, released a statement on Friday.
“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna,” Baldwin said in a pair of tweets sent out from the account of his and his wife’s nonprofit, the Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation.
Baldwin reportedly did not know the gun was loaded with live ammunition as he was rehearsing a scene in which he points the gun at a camera. An assistant director reportedly told the actor it was a “cold gun,” meaning it did not contain live rounds, before handing it to Baldwin. During the rehearsal, Baldwin accidentally fired the weapon, hitting Hutchins and one other crew member. The other victim survived and has been released from the hospital.
Firearms consultant Bryan Carpenter of Dark Thirty Film Services said, regardless of whether Baldwin knew the weapon was loaded, the actor broke a cardinal rule of gun safety.
“Loaded or unloaded, a weapon never gets pointed at another human being,” Carpenter said. “You never let the muzzle of a weapon cover something you don’t intend to destroy.”