Alec Baldwin was charged Thursday with two federal counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the filming of the Western “Rust.” The October 2021 incident — in which Baldwin allegedly shot a prop gun loaded with a real bullet — took place on a movie set, where extreme precautions are normally taken around prop weapons. Here are some of the alleged twists and turns that took place before and after the shooting.
On-set complaints before the shooting
It’s now known that, hours before the shooting, several crew members walked off set — reportedly fed up about various issues. They complained about being forced to either sleep in their cars or drive an hour to a hotel because lodging near the Bonanza Creek Ranch was deemed too expensive.
Hutchins had even offered to forego some equipment rentals to free up money for camera operators to get local accommodations.
Assistant director Dave Halls had reportedly been the subject of safety complaints while working on Hulu’s “Into the Dark” series in 2019. Among other things, sources told CNN, Halls had been accused of disregarding safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics use.
Meanwhile, on set, some crew members allegedly killed time by taking target practice at beer cans with a prop gun that contained live rounds — a pastime known as “plinking.”
According to The Wrap, one source on set claimed that when authorities arrived to investigate the fatal shooting, they found both live ammo and blank rounds stored in the area where the plinking had taken place.
Preparing for a scene, Baldwin had been working on his gun-drawing skills when the prop pistol discharged a real bullet — hitting director Joel Souza in the shoulder and Hutchins in the chest. An ambulance rushed Hutchins, 42, to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The inexperienced armorer
A production source on the Nicolas Cage Movie “The Old Way,” filmed before “Rust” described young armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, as “a bit careless with the guns, waving [one] around every now and again” and said she handed a gun to a child actress — forcing the crew to intervene.
On the set of “Rust” — only her second film as an armorer — Gutierrez-Reed, then 24, and the assistants who worked with her allegedly played around with the weapons, leaving them leaning against their own bodies or propped up with the barrel in the ground while they played with their cellphones, a “horrified” source told Fox News.
It allegedly got so bad that camera assistant Lane Luper is said to have walked off the set prior to the fatal shooting. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Luper described Gutierrez-Reed and her crew as “three inexperienced people.”
Insiders have maintained that Gutierrez-Reed, the daughter of famed movie armorer Thell Reed, was hired as a result of cheapness and nepotism. She received only $8,000 for the “Rust” job. Halls, meanwhile, made $52,830. Baldwin earned $150,000, with his production company taking in another $100,000 — a low price for a Hollywood star, but allegedly because the Western was Baldwin’s “passion project.”
In December 2021, after some six weeks of silence, Baldwin told ABC News that he had “no idea” how a real bullet wound up in the fake gun. He denied pulling the trigger and expressed optimism about not being charged in the tragedy.
“Someone is responsible for what happened,” he declared, “and I can’t say who it is, but it’s not me … If I thought I was responsible, I might have killed myself.”
Gutierrez-Reed sued the movie’s gun and ammunition supplier, PDQ Arm and Prop, LLC, in January 2022 — alleging she was sold dummy ammunition with live rounds mixed in. (PDQ has denied this.)
The suit also claimed that the gun was left unattended by an assistant who was supposed to be watching it. Gutierrez-Reed claimed that she loaded the gun with what she believed to be dummy rounds and asked Halls to notify her when it was time to film the scene so she could re-check the gun — but the assistant director never called her back over.
Halls’ lawyer has said he was not responsible for making sure the prop was a “cold gun,” meaning it contained no live rounds.
Accusations against Baldwin
Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful death suit against Baldwin in February 2022, with lawyers claiming the actor had refused weapons training. (By October, the Hutchins family settled the wrongful death suit with Baldwin, including the condition that widower Matthew Hutchins would be made an executive producer on the film, which was set to continue.)
Baldwin, in a March 2022 legal filing, claimed that Gutierrez-Reed told him to cock the revolver that killed Hutchins. Guttierez-Reed denied the claim and responded, “Mr. Baldwin knew that he could never point a firearm at crew members.”
Nine months later, an FBI report maintained that Baldwin pulled the trigger — explaining that the gun could not have fired if cocked (as Baldwin claimed that it was) unless the trigger had been pulled.
In November 2022, Baldwin filed lawsuits against several crew members on “Rust.” Among those named are Gutierrez-Reed and Halls. As per Baldwin’s lawyer: “This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun.