SANTA FE COUNTY, N.M. — Authorities in Santa Fe County said Wednesday that investigators recovered three guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the set of the Western movie “Rust” following a shooting last week that claimed the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.
Hutchins died Thursday after being shot in the chest by actor Alec Baldwin, who had been practicing pointing the gun at the camera lens when it went off, according to The Associated Press and USA Today. Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins, sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder, KOAT reported.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adnan Mendoza said Wednesday that authorities have since recovered the lead projectile fired from the gun from Souza’s shoulder.
Update 12:50 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: Santa Fe County Sheriff Adnan Mendoza said Wednesday that authorities have no set timeline for investigating Thursday’s deadly shooting.
“There’s several individuals that need to be interviewed, and from those interviews comes new information ... that we need to track down, so I don’t want to put a timeline on it,” he said. “I want everybody to know that we’re working diligently -- our investigative team is -- to wrap this up thoroughly and completely.”
Mendoza said he believes that there was complacency on the set in terms of safety protocols.
“I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the State of New Mexico, but I’ll leave that up to the industry and the state to determine what those need to be,” he said.
Authorities continue to investigate.
Update 12:40 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: Authorities believe they have recovered other live rounds on the set of “Rust” besides the one that killed Hutchins and injured Souza last week, Sheriff Adnan Mendoza confirmed at a news conference Wednesday.
He said investigators recovered about 500 rounds of ammunition from the movie set which he described as a “mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we suspect are live rounds.” He declined to speculate about how the suspected live rounds got onto the set.
“This investigation is active, so I won’t comment on how they got there, but we suspect that they are there,” the sheriff said. “That will be determined when testing is done by the crime lab in reference to whether or not they are officially live rounds or not.”
Reports have surfaced claiming that the gun fired Thursday by Baldwin had earlier been used for target practice with live bullets. Mendoza said deputies were investigating the reports.
“I would encourage anybody that has any information (about) any target practicing or any firearm (that) was discharged away from the movie set, or for practice, or for whatever reason ... contact the sheriff’s office,” he said.
Update 12:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza confirmed that authorities consider the bullet which killed Hutchins and injured Souza to be a suspected “live round.”
“It did fire from the weapon and obviously caused the death of Mrs. Hutchins and injured Mr. Souza,” he said, adding that there was “other ammunition” in the gun as well. “We’ll send the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin to the crime lab and do a functionality test. Obviously, it did fire a live round.”
Authorities said the people who handled the gun before the deadly shooting, identified as Baldwin, armorer Hannah Reed-Gutierrez and assistant director David Halls, are cooperating with investigators.
Update 12:25 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said Wednesday that it remained too soon to determine whether charges would be filed in Thursday’s deadly shooting on the set of “Rust.”
“We take the corroborated facts and evidence and connect it to New Mexico law, and we are not at that juncture yet,” she said Wednesday at a news conference. “All options are on the table at this point. I’m not commenting on charges, whether they will be filed or not or on whom. ... No one has been ruled out at this point.”
Update 12:17 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said Wednesday that authorities have collected about 600 pieces of evidence related to last week’s deadly shooting on the set of “Rust,” including three firearms, about 500 rounds of ammunition and clothing.
“We believe we have in our possession the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin,” he said, adding that authorities also believe they have the spent shell casing. “The actual lead projectile that was fired has been recovered from the shoulder of Mr. Souza.”
The sheriff said officials have found “possible additional live rounds on set.” The evidence will be sent to the FBI’s lab in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis.
“We are conducting a thorough and objective investigation,” he said.
“It’s too early right now in the investigation to comment on charges at this point. The investigation will continue and if the (sheriff’s) office determines during our investigation (that) a crime has occurred and probable cause exists... an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed. Otherwise, we will complete our investigation and forward the full investigation and evidence to the district attorney for review.”
Original report: Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies are set to speak at a joint news conference at 10 a.m. MDT Wednesday, KRQE reported. The comments will be the first made in public by investigators probing the shooting.
Juan Rios, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that no criminal charges will be announced at the news conference, saying that it remains too early in the investigation. Authorities have not made any arrests in connection to the incident. Carmack-Altwies told The New York Times in a telephone interview Tuesday that “everything at this point, including criminal charges, is on the table.”
Court records obtained by the AP, the Times and KOAT show that an assistant director took the gun used in Thursday’s shooting off a cart and said it was a “cold gun,” meaning that it had no live rounds in it, before Baldwin began rehearsing a scene and the gun fired.
Authorities continue to investigate.
“It’s probably weeks, if not months, of follow-up investigation that we’re going to need to get to the point of charging,” Carmack-Altwies told the Times.
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