The Assistant Director On ‘Rust’ Admitted He Didn’t Thoroughly Check The Prop Gun He Handed To Alec Baldwin Before The Accidental Shooting

Last Thursday, an accidental prop gun discharge on the set of the low budget Western Rust left its director, Joel Souza, wounded and its cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, dead. It’s already been made public that the weapon in question had been handed to star Alec Baldwin, who fired it thinking it was “cold,” by assistant director Dave Halls. But now Halls has admitted that he didn’t thoroughly check the gun before doing so.

According to The New York Times, Halls told an investigator that while the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, had opened the gun for him to inspect, he may not have taken as close a look as he should have. According to the affidavit, Halls “advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum.”

The incident took place during a rehearsal. As per NYT:

After the shooting, Mr. Halls said he picked up the gun from a pew inside the church and took it to Ms. Reed. When she opened it, he said, according to the affidavit, he could see “at least four dummy casings with the holes on the side, and one without the hole. He advised this did not have the cap on it and was just the casing.” Dummy rounds are sometimes identified by a pierced hole on the side.

Describing the safety protocols on the set, Mr. Halls said Ms. Gutierrez typically opened guns for him to inspect. “I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there is no live fire, she (Hannah) opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set,” he said in an interview with the investigator, according to the affidavit. It was not clear what he meant by the term “live fire.”

Part of the job of an assistant director is to ensure the safety on a set. In the frenzy after the shooting, a script supervisor who called 911 told the operator that Hall is “supposed to check the guns.”

More details about Halls’ career have emerged in the last couple days. An industry veteran whose credits include The Matrix Reloaded and Fargo, he was fired from the set of a movie called Freedom’s Path in 2019 after another gun discharge. Prior to the deadly incident, there had already been at least two accidental gun discharges, while crew members have complained about deplorable working conditions.

(Via NYT)