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Alec Baldwin Was Handed A Gun He Was Told Was Safe To Use Just Before The Fatal Set Shooting, Court Records State

The revelation came amid increased scrutiny of the film set and the general practice of using prop guns in productions.

Posted on October 22, 2021, at 9:13 p.m. ET

A compound with buildings and vehicles in the middle of a sparse environment
Roberto E. Rosales / AP

This photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch one day after an incident left a crew member dead and the director injured.

Alec Baldwin was handed a prop gun loaded with live ammunition that a crew member said was safe to use right before he shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his movie Rust, according to newly released court records obtained by multiple news outlets Friday.

The revelation came amid increased scrutiny of the film set and the general practice of using prop guns in productions, with Hollywood industry workers lamenting online that they have long complained about safety issues.

The cast and crew were inside a rustic, wooden building at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe when an assistant director picked up one of the prop guns that was sitting on a rolling cart outside, yelled, “Cold gun!” — meaning that the weapon was safe to use — and handed it to the actor, according to a search warrant affidavit completed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office and released by a magistrate judge Friday.

The assistant director who handed Baldwin the weapon “did not know live rounds were in the gun,” police Detective Joel Cano, who wrote the affidavit, stated.

We want your help! If you have more information or a tip regarding this incident or unsafe practices on film sets, contact krystie.yandoli@buzzfeed.com or brianna.sacks@buzzfeed.com, or reach us securely at tips.buzzfeed.com.

The five-page document, also obtained by the Associated Press and the New York Times, sheds light on what detectives may be looking for as part of their investigation. Cano requested to gather costumes, film, cameras, prop weapons, and ammunition, as well as documentation of who owned them. The detective also stated that he believes the shooting may have been filmed, and was hoping to obtain footage and photos from inside the building.

Cano said the shooting took place as the cast and crew were rehearsing with the equipment, which was set up by one of the film’s production assistants and armorer, the person who is in charge of handling weapons on set. The detective wrote that the armorer “was given the prop gun after it was fired by actor Alec Baldwin,” then removed the “spent casing” from the gun before giving it to the police.

The sheriff's office said Thursday that a “scene being filmed involved a prop firearm when it was discharged. Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.” Director Joel Souza was also injured in the incident and later released from the hospital Friday.

No charges have been filed in the case.

Jim Weber / AP

Alec Baldwin speaks on the phone in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office after he was questioned about a shooting on the set Oct. 21.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a half-dozen camera crew workers walked off the set of Rust just hours before Baldwin discharged the weapon because they were frustrated with the film’s working conditions.

In audio of the 911 call from the set, a script supervisor said they were rehearsing when the gun went off.

Baldwin tweeted Friday that he’s “fully cooperating with the police investigation” and is in touch with Hutchins’ husband, “offering [his] support to him and his family.”

“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,” Baldwin wrote.

Rust Movie Productions did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment but said in a statement that it's conducting an internal review of the incident and will cooperate with Santa Fe authorities.

“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. 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 company said. “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.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.