The Rust First Assistant Director who admitted he didn’t properly check the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last month is now calling on the film industry to make sure “no one is harmed through the creative process again.”
Speaking publicly for the first time since the fatal shooting by star-producer Alec Baldwin on the low-budget Western’s New Mexico set, David Halls has been named by Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza as one of the “two other people that handled and or inspected the loaded gun prior to Baldwin firing the weapon.” The other individual is armorer Hannah Gutierrez.
Hutchins died during a rehearsal at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after being struck by what now have been called “live rounds” from the 1880s-era weapon Baldwin was practicing a “quick draw” move.
“Halyna Hutchins was not just one of the most talented people I’ve worked with, but also a friend,” said Halls today in a statement first obtained by the New York Post. “I’m shocked and saddened by her death,” added the veteran crew member, who was fired from a previous film because of gun safety lapses and was not rehired over personal misconduct complaints on a 2019 Blumhouse TV project.
“It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again,” Halls concluded, saying he has been “overwhelmed by the love and support” he has received and that his “thoughts are with all who knew and loved Halyna.”
Halls’ recently retained Albuquerque-based attorney and former Assistant D.A. Lisa Torraco did not respond to requests for comment on her client’s statement. However, having been interviewed previously by police, Halls has been asked to speak again with the sheriff’s office, I’m told.
No one has been arrested and no charges have been filed against Halls, Gutierrez or anyone else on the now-shuttered Joel Souza-directed Rust.
A third search warrant on a vehicle on the Santa Fe production location found more ammunition in and around the lock box where on-set firearms are supposed to be placed, an inventory list filed Friday revealed. Two previous warrants hauled in “500 rounds of ammunition … a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting are live rounds,” said Mendoza at a press conference on the case last week.
“During an interview with David Halls, when Affiant asked David about the safety protocol on set in regards to firearms, he advised, ‘I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there’s no live fire, she [Hannah] opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set,’” said an affidavit submitted by the sheriff’s office for the October 27 search warrant. “David advised when Hannah showed him the firearm before continuing rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds,” the filing went on to say regarding the sequence of events leading up to Baldwin being handed the “cold gun” on the already troubled set.
“He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum,” the affidavit said about Halls.
Like non-DGA member Halls, Gutierrez has also hired a criminal defense attorney as the police probe continues. Previously both the armorer and Baldwin have addressed the shooting in statements, with the Emmy-winning actor on October 30 talking to assembled media in person in Manchester, VT.
“A woman died,” Baldwin said on Saturday as his wife looked on, trying to remind him that police had asked him not to speak publicly. “She was my friend. She was my friend. The day I arrived in Santa Fe to start shooting, I took her to dinner with Joel, the director. We were a very, very well-oiled crew shooting a film together and then this horrible event happened.”
Facts dispute Baldwin’s well-oiled machine characterization.
There were at least two previous weapons discharges on Rust, according to Gutierrez and others, and several members of the $7 million film’s camera team resigning over safety and financial concerns mere hours before the shooting that would kill Hutchins and wound Souza.