What to Know About the Fatal Shooting on Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ Movie Set

by The Technical Blogs

A grand jury in New Mexico has indicted the actor Alec Baldwin on an involuntary manslaughter charge for a shooting on the set of a western that killed the film’s cinematographer and wounded its director.

It was the second time Mr. Baldwin found himself facing a criminal charge in the case: Prosecutors had dropped a previous manslaughter charge against him last year.

The case stems from a fatal shooting on the set of the film “Rust” in New Mexico in 2021. Mr. Baldwin was rehearsing with a revolver when it fired a live round, killing the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding the film’s director. Mr. Baldwin has repeatedly denied responsibility for the tragedy, noting that he was told that the gun did not contain any live rounds and that live ammunition is supposed to be banned on sets.

If convicted, he could face up to 18 months in prison.

Mr. Baldwin has repeatedly denied pulling the trigger, saying that the gun discharged after he pulled the hammer back and released it. A forensic report commissioned by the prosecution determined that he must have pulled the trigger for it to go off.

The movie’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has pleaded not guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge and is scheduled to stand trial in February. Prosecutors faulted her for not adequately checking the ammunition that she loaded into the gun and for allowing live rounds onto the movie set.

Here is an overview of what has happened since the fatal shooting.

On Oct. 21, 2021, inside a structure depicting a 19th-century wooden church, Mr. Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved “cross drawing” a revolver. As the crew was setting up the shot, the gun discharged, and a bullet struck Ms. Hutchins in the chest. Joel Souza, the film’s director, was struck in the shoulder.

Ms. Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque, where she died. Mr. Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Santa Fe and was released the next day.

Hours before the shooting, about six members of the camera crew walked off the set over working conditions, according to an affidavit, including complaints about long workdays and delayed paychecks, according to people involved in the production.

There were at least two accidental gun discharges on the set days before the fatal shooting, according to three former members of the film’s crew.

In New Mexico, as in many states, involuntary manslaughter is defined as killing another person unlawfully but unintentionally.

The indictment on Jan. 19, 2024, charged Mr. Baldwin with two different counts of involuntary manslaughter, but he can only be convicted of one. The more serious one, a felony, accuses him of “total disregard or indifference for the safety of others,” while the other accuses him of the negligent use of a firearm.

Mr. Baldwin was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter in January 2023, but a new set of prosecutors dropped the charges three months later. Those prosecutors eventually announced that a grand jury would consider whether to refile charges, which it ultimately did.

Dave Halls, the first assistant director on “Rust,” reached a plea deal on a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer for “Rust,” was killed in the shooting.Credit…Fred Hayes/Getty Images

The district attorney for Santa Fe County, Mary Carmack-Altwies, had originally appointed a special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, to assist her on the “Rust” case.

Ms. Reeb, a former prosecutor, was involved in bringing the initial criminal charges, but Mr. Baldwin’s lawyers later filed a motion asking that she be disqualified, arguing that her simultaneous work for two different branches of state government — after she joined the prosecution she was elected to the State Legislature — violated New Mexico’s Constitution.

Shortly before a judge in New Mexico was set to decide whether Ms. Reeb could continue in the role, she stepped down, saying that she wanted the prosecution to be able to focus on “the evidence and the facts.”

Jason Bowles, a lawyer for Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, challenged the district attorney’s ability to appoint a new special prosecutor for a case that she was still working on, and the judge in the case agreed.

Ms. Carmack-Altwies stepped back from the case and appointed two New Mexico lawyers, Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis, as special prosecutors.

Filmmakers described Ms. Hutchins as a skilled cinematographer with an artistic vision who was deeply committed to her work.

She grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle, according to her personal website, and studied economics in Ukraine before switching to a journalism program at Kyiv National University. She later attended the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles.

Her family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against crew members and producers, including Mr. Baldwin, accusing them of reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures that endangered the crew. As part of a settlement, Ms. Hutchins’s husband was made an executive producer on the film, which has since finished production.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Graham Bowley, Julia Jacobs, Alyssa Lukpat, Simon Romero, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Glenn Thrush and Remy Tumin

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