Actor Alec Baldwin has not yet been cleared of any criminal responsibility after a gun he fired killed the cinematographer of a movie Baldwin was filming in New Mexico, according to one top law enforcement official.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adam Mendoza said Thursday morning that Baldwin was among three people who are the focus of the investigation into last week’s shooting death of Halyna Hutchins. The gun was given to the actor by assistant director Dave Halls, who has said armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed gave it to him.
In an appearance on NBC’s “Today,” Mendoza indicated that the investigation’s focus is not on the actor.
“I can say this, those two individuals are obviously the focus of the investigation,” he said, referring to Halls and Gutierrez-Reed.
However, when host Savannah Guthrie asked if Baldwin was now free and clear, the sheriff demurred.
“Nobody’s been cleared as of yet,” Mendoza said.
“Nobody’s been cleared as of yet.”
Watch @SavannahGuthrie’s full interview with Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza about the latest details from the investigation into the fatal shooting on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie “Rust.” pic.twitter.com/T8Vv2SqVrr
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 28, 2021
“Again, there’s three people that handled the firearm prior to the death of Miss Hutchins, so those people will be interviewed, are the focus of the investigation, and so nobody’s been cleared as of yet,” he said.
Should Alec Baldwin be held responsible for this shooting?
Affidavits have indicated that Baldwin was told the gun contained no ammunition when it was handed to him. On Wednesday, Mendoza said that a piece of lead was recovered from the shoulder of director Joel Souza, who was wounded in the incident that killed Hutchins, according to USA Today.
“I think during the interviews and the focus of the investigation is how the live rounds got there, who brought them there and why they were there,” the sheriff said.
Mendoza said he knew of no reason why live ammunition would be on the set.
“The information that we’ve got in the industry is that there should be no live rounds on set,” he said, repeating that the focus on the investigation will be why the live ammo was on the set and who brought it there.
Mendoza said that further interviews will be part of the investigation and noted that the probe will follow up on a wide number of reports that have emerged in the media, including allegations of previous incidents with guns on the set of “Rust” and that crew members were using guns for target practice.
“When you interview people, there is more information that may come to light,” he said.
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said criminal charges have not been ruled out, according to “Today.”
She said it is possible the investigation will uncover “willful disregard” for the safety of people on the set.
“We just can’t say that at this point because the investigation is not complete,” Carmack-Altwies said. “We know mistakes happened. We’re not exactly sure who did when they did, how they did it.”
On Wednesday, Mendoza said investigators have established the final piece of the chain of events that led to the shooting.
“I think the facts are clear. A weapon was handed to Mr. Baldwin. The weapon is functional, and fired a live round, killing Ms. Hutchins and injuring Mr. Souza,” he said.
Halls told investigators there is a protocol for checking a gun, according to an affidavit cited by USA Today.
“I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there’s no live fire, she [Gutierrez-Reed] opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set,” he said.
The affidavit said Halls “could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum.”
Halls “advised the incident was not a deliberate act,” according to the warrant.