Was sabotage involved in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin on Rust set?

Santa Fe, New Mexico - Hollywood is still raging over the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by accidental on-set shooting at the hands of star Alec Baldwin. As fingers point towards the movie's armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, her lawyers have brought "sabotage" into play.

An investigation is still underway at the Bonanza Creek Ranch (l), where an accidental shooting involving actor Alec Baldwin (l) took place.
An investigation is still underway at the Bonanza Creek Ranch (l), where an accidental shooting involving actor Alec Baldwin (l) took place.  © Collage: Imago/ZUMA Wire

Someone may have put a bullet with live ammunition into a box of harmless dummy cartridges to sabotage the shooting, attorney Jason Bowles said Wednesday as he appeared on the TODAY show. He also appeared on Good Morning America.

There had been disgruntled employees on set who had complained about working conditions, he elaborated, and had walked off the set.

"I believe that somebody who would do that would want to sabotage the set, want to prove a point," Bowles said of the film's crew members. "I think you can’t rule anybody out at this point."

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Gutierrez-Reed said she loaded the gun with bullets from a box of dummy cartridges.

The investigation needs to get to the bottom of how the live ammunition got into the revolver, her lawyer continued, adding that at times the guns and ammunition were not under lock and key, but were accessible to all.

"We have a time frame between 11 (AM) and 1 (PM), approximately, that day, in which the firearms at times were unattended, so there was opportunity to tamper with this scene," he said.

Yet afterwards, Gutierrz-Reed's lawyers walked back those statements in a New York Times interview. They said that after speaking with the armorer, they stood corrected that the weapons were only left unattended for five to 10 minutes.

The incident, during the filming of the western Rust at a ranch in Santa Fe, killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza on October 21.

Baldwin, who stars in and produces the film, fired the gun while rehearsing for a scene. Investigators determined that the Colt contained a real bullet.

On the set, investigators found three handguns and about 500 rounds of ammunition, including blanks and so-called dummy cartridges that do not contain gunpowder. But live ammunition was probably also among them.

Gutierrz-Reed has denied allegations of negligence on the set. She said she has "no idea" where the live ammunition came from.

The film's assistant director Dave Halls is also the focus of scrutiny, having admitted that he had not strictly followed safety precautions and had not checked each individual round of ammunition.

Baldwin issued a statement conveying his "shock and sadness" over the accident.

Production on the film has been paused while the investigation is still ongoing.

Cover photo: Collage: Imago/ZUMA Wire

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