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Alec Baldwin, armorer charged in connection to fatal shooting on film set: 'No one is above the law'
Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for National Geographic

Alec Baldwin, armorer charged in connection to fatal shooting on film set: 'No one is above the law'

After more than two years of investigating and weighing the evidence, a district attorney in New Mexico has decided to charge both Alec Baldwin and a crew member with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the fatal shooting that occurred on the set of the upcoming Western film "Rust."

In October 2021, Baldwin was sitting in a pew in a mock church at the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set in Santa Fe when he decided to practice with the gun he was using for the film. He wanted to attempt a cross-draw maneuver, a move that an attorney for armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed described as "dangerous."

While rehearsing the cross draw, Baldwin supposedly drew a gun and fired a single shot directly at the camera. That bullet struck both the film's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42, and the director, Joel Souza, 49. Hutchins was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she later died from her injuries. Souza was treated at the hospital and later released.

Baldwin has repeatedly denied pulling the trigger of the gun and claimed that it must have malfunctioned. The FBI then tested the weapon repeatedly and determined that, in most circumstances, it did not fire unless a person first cocked it and pulled the trigger. However, investigators did have one instance in which internal components of the gun fractured, causing the cocked gun to fire, even though the trigger had not been pulled.

Baldwin has also cast blame for the shooting on crew members, especially Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of weapons and armory on the set, and assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun. Last November, Baldwin filed a lawsuit against Gutierrez-Reed and Halls as well as two other crew members. Halls has already agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon in connection to the shooting.

However, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has decided that Halls is not the only person responsible for Hutchins' death. She has now charged both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed with two counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

"After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew," Carmack-Altwies said. "On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice."

Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be "charged in the alternative," which means that a jury will determine whether they are guilty and, if they are, of which definition of involuntary manslaughter they are guilty. The crime itself carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine, but one of the two definitions of involuntary manslaughter also involves a firearm enhancement, which would tack on another five years to the sentence.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will each receive a preliminary hearing within 60 days to determine whether they will proceed to a trial.

Ever since the shooting occurred, questions have swirled regarding how live rounds ever came to be on the set in the first place, and Carmack-Altwies said previously that the answer to those questions would "be one of the most important factors going into a charging decision."

According to the affidavit, Gutierrez-Reed insisted to police that "no live ammo is ever kept on set." However, Thell Reed, Gutierrez-Reed's father and a longtime Hollywood armorer himself, later admitted to police that ammunition once in his possession "may match the ammunition found on the set of 'Rust,'" ABC News reported. Souza, the director of "Rust," later recalled that someone had referred to the weapon handed to Baldwin as a "cold gun," a term which means safe or unloaded.

"Review of available law enforcement reports showed no compelling demonstration that the firearm was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on set," wrote the New Mexico chief medical investigator after conducting a postmortem on Hutchins. "Based on all available information, including the absence of obvious intent to cause harm or death, the manner of death is best classified as accident."

Hutchins was a married mother of one child. Originally born in Ukraine, she came to America to continue her career in cinematography. Her family has since settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Baldwin last October. Though the financial details of the settlement have not been disclosed, Matthew Hutchins, the victim's widower, will be named as an executive producer on a film, though it is unclear whether he will be named the executive producer of "Rust," which is scheduled to resume filming this month.

In fact, the entire cast and crew, with the notable exception of Hutchins, are expected to return to the set, including Souza, the director. No charges have been filed in connection to Souza's injuries.

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →