Warrant reveals gun not thoroughly checked before movie set shooting; sheriff not ruling out charges

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Charges are not off the table as the investigation into a deadly movie set shooting continues, according to the Santa Fe District Attorney. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed, and director Joel Souza was injured when Alec Baldwin fired a long colt revolver while rehearsing a scene last week at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe.

“The investigation will continue and if the sheriff’s office determines during our investigation a crime has occurred and probable cause exists an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed,” Sheriff Mendoza stated.

The gun Baldwin fired was reportedly one of three set aside by armorer Hannah Gutierrez and picked up by assistant director David Halls. According to a newly unsealed search warrant, Gutierrez and Halls both gave statements to deputies. That warrant seeks to gain access to investigate the trailer where the guns were kept.

That search warrant reveals a prop gun wasn’t properly checked before Baldwin fired it. It states Halls admitted he couldn’t remember if Gutierrez performed the typical checks, and that he didn’t check all the rounds inside the prop revolver.

At a press conference Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said he’s aware of rumors that some crew members are reckless when it comes to safety.

“We are going to follow up on some of those statements that were made that there were other incidents, we definitely want to speak to anybody that has information on safety issues on further sets whether there were other issues,” Sheriff Mendoza added.

According to that search warrant, Halls told investigators he would check the barrel of prop guns and Gutierrez would spin the drums to check for ammunition and determine whether they were safe. Halls says when Gutierrez showed him the firearm used by Baldwin after the shooting, he remembered seeing four dummy casings and a fifth without the cap on it. He says he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t remember if Gutierrez had spun the drum to check, either.

The press conference Wednesday revealed several potential safety issues on set. The sheriff’s office says it’s investigating reports that some people could have been having target practice with live rounds near the set earlier in the day, before the shooting.

“I would encourage anybody who has any information about target practicing or any firearm was discharged away from the movie set or for practice or for whatever reason to contact the sheriff’s office,” District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis stated.

The sheriff says hundreds of rounds of ammunition were found on set. Ballistics will determine how many of those could have been even more live rounds. If that’s the case, the sheriff’s office wants to know how and why they were on set.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has collected about 600 items of evidence through search warrants. This includes 3 firearms, about 500 rounds of ammunition, and several pieces of clothing and accessories. The 500 rounds were a mix of blanks, dummy rounds, and suspected live rounds.

“We believe that we have in our possession the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin, this is the firearm that we believe discharged the bullet. We also believe that we have the spent shell casing that was fired from the gun. The actual lead projectile that was fired has been recovered from the shoulder of Mr. Souza,” said Sheriff Mendoza.

The sheriff’s office also believes it has recovered additional possible live rounds from the set. The gun fired by Baldwin was reported to be an F.LLI Pietta Long Colt revolver which contained other ammunition. The other two firearms recovered from the set were a single-action Army .45 revolver that was believed to have cylinder modifications making it nonfunctioning and a plastic nonfunctioning revolver.

All evidence items will be submitted to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia to be analyzed. The ballistic analysis will determine the exact specifics of the lead projectile recovered from Souza’s shoulder and whether or not the rounds recovered were officially “live.”

Elaborating further on the projectile recovered from Souza’s shoulder, Sheriff Mendoza said, “We would consider it a live round, a bullet, live, because it did fire from the weapon and because it obviously caused the death of Ms. Hutchins, and injured Mr. Sousa.”

“We know there was one live round as far as we’re concerned, on set. We’re gonna determine whether– we suspect there were other live rounds, but that’s up to the testing. Right now, we’re gonna determine how those got there, why they were there. Because they shouldn’t have been there,” said Mendoza.

According to the Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, nobody has been ruled out of potential charges. However, until a more thorough investigation takes place, the district attorney will not speak on possible charges or who they would apply to.

The SCSO is investigating claims that individuals were shooting firearms for target practice on the ranch property. Anyone with information regarding these claims or the discharge of firearms away from the film set is asked to contact the sheriff’s office.

Authorities are also following up on previous accusations of negligence on other film sets. Anyone with information regarding safety issues or prior incidents is encouraged to call the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office at 505-986-2490.

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