Now, TMZ is reporting that according to multiple sources involved with the production, the gun had also been used by the crew for target practice—which would explain why there were real bullets versus blanks in the chamber of the gun.
“We’re told this off-the-clock shooting — which was allegedly happening away from the movie lot — was being done with real bullets … which is how some who worked on the film believe a live round found its way in one of the chambers that day,” TMZ reports.
Additionally, TMZ reports a source that said when police arrived following the accident, they found live ammo and blanks stored in the same area.
Steve Wolf, a theatrical firearms safety expert, tells CNN that a real gun was used versus a prop gun, meaning that live ammunition can be used in the gun. A prop gun cannot hold live bullets, it can only hold blank bullets.
Also, Wolf says the gun should never have been pointed at a person behind the camera in the “line of fire.”
Late Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that in the hours leading up to the fatal shooting, several union camera crew workers walked off the Rust set.
The union crew had been struggling with labor issues for days, one of which was failed promises for money for hotel rooms closer to the set. As union members prepared to walk, a crew member on the set tells the Times, nonunion crew members appeared to replace them.
Additionally, there’d been two misfires earlier in the week with the prop gun that killed Hutchins. “There was a serious lack of safety meetings on this set,” a crew person told the Times.
The shooting happened six hours after the union crew left the set.
According to CNN, in a statement from IATSE Local 44 prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician Maggie Goll said that while working on Hulu’s Into the Dark anthology series in February and May 2019, Halls “neglected to hold safety meetings and consistently failed to announce the presence of a firearm on set to the crew, as is protocol.”
“The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon’s presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day,” Goll’s statement reads.
She added that the prop master would “announce each day when a gun would be required on camera, the disposition of that weapon – whether it was a rubber/plastic replica, a non-firing option, or a ‘cold’ functional, but unloaded option, allowing anyone to inspect said weapon prior to bringing it to set and presenting it to the talent … The Prop Master frequently admonished Dave for dismissing the talent without returning props, weapon included, or failing to make safety announcements.”
“Whether we’re talking about Sarah Jones, a camera assistant who was killed on a set in Savannah, Georgia; a freak gun accident; or people working 18-hour days and falling asleep at the wheel, union or nonunion, safety should be everyone’s concern. It underscores that this is not a glamorous field, it’s one that is fraught with danger. I’m sure Alex Baldwin is beside himself,” Liz Goldsmith, a location scout in Chicago, Illinois, tells Daily Kos.
Local 44 described the event as “an accidental weapons discharge” where a “live single round was accidentally fired on set by the principal actor,” and adds that “no union members from Local 44 were listed on the call sheet.” Local 44 added that the props, set decoration, special effects, and construction departments were all staffed by local nonunion crew members based in New Mexico.
“It’s hard to believe that someone would bring a live round to the show. Normally, a gun is checked and rechecked and usually, at least four people have looked at it before filming or rehearsing. Obviously, that procedure wasn’t followed,” John Simmons, the first Black vice president to serve in the American Society of Cinematographers, told Daily Kos.
“Halyna Hutchins studied under our president, Stephen Lighthill, at AFI in 2015. It’s an incredible loss. She was a rising star in the world of cinematography. When you have a woman achieving what she was able to accomplish, I mean, she’s a role model for so many. She was a promising artist and the loss is so senseless. Her death leaves a real hole in the community of cinematographers, as the industry becomes more inclusive,” Simmons said.
It’s never a good time for pro-second amendment folks to have this conversation, but when will that time come? How many people have to die before we have an honest discussion about getting rid of guns in this country?
“There’s no reason to have guns loaded with blanks or anything on set anymore,” tweeted director Craig Zobel, whose credits include the 2020 film The Hunt and the HBO series Mare of Easttown. “Should just be fully outlawed. There’s computers now.”