Gun Mishaps Occurred on Baldwin Film Before Shooting, Workers Say
They expressed concerns over gun mishaps and working conditions just days before the shooting that killed the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.,
ALBUQUERQUE — There were at least two accidental gun discharges on the set of an Alec Baldwin movie being filmed in New Mexico days before he fatally shot the cinematographer, according to three former members of the film’s crew.
The discharges occurred on Oct. 16, the former crew members said, prompting a complaint to a supervisor about the safety practices on the set, which was outside Santa Fe. The crew members, who asked not to be named out of fear that their future employment in the industry could be affected, were among several workers who quit, just hours before the fatal shooting, over complaints about unpaid work and working conditions on the production.
The disclosures, which were first reported by The Los Angeles Times, are focusing scrutiny on concerns over loosely followed protocols and labor strife between producers and crew members during the production of the movie, “Rust,” a low-budget film about a 19th-century accidental killing and its aftermath.
Larry Zanoff, who worked on the set of “Django Unchained” as an armorer — a position that involves instructing cast members on the safe handling of firearms — and was not involved in “Rust,” said that if a firearm went off on a film set, there would immediately be an inquiry into whether the firearm was defective or was mishandled. If the determination was that it was mishandled, he said, the production would undergo a reinforcement of safety protocols and possibly disallow the handler from using firearms.
It was unclear whether such an investigation took place after the Oct. 16 incidents.
The movie’s producers, who include Mr. Baldwin, contended in a statement on Friday that they had not been told about the safety issues.
“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” the movie’s production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, said in the statement. “We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”
The problems with the firearms are fueling questions as to how Mr. Baldwin could have been handling a gun on set that was unsafe. According to an affidavit signed by Detective Joel Cano of the Santa Fe County sheriff’s office, Mr. Baldwin was told by an assistant director who handed him the firearm that it was a “cold gun,” which on a film set typically refers to a gun that’s unloaded.
According to the affidavit by the detective in the Santa Fe County sheriff’s office, the gun used in the shooting was set up by Hannah Gutierrez, the production’s armorer, and handed to Mr. Baldwin by Dave Halls, the assistant director. Neither Ms. Gutierrez nor Mr. Halls responded to requests for comment.
Joel Souza, the film’s director, who was injured in the shooting, said in a statement on Saturday that he was “gutted” by the loss of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, writing that she was “kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better.”
“I am humbled and grateful by the outpouring of affection we have received from our filmmaking community, the people of Santa Fe and the hundreds of strangers who have reached out,” he said in the statement. “It will surely aid in my recovery.”
Ms. Hutchins’s husband, Matt Hutchins, wrote in a tweet on Friday night that his wife “inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words.”
Nicole Sperling contributed reporting from Los Angeles. Glenn Thrush contributed reporting from Washington, D.C. Kitty Bennett contributed research.