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Alec Baldwin ‘was careful with guns before fatal shooting’

A cameraman told police that the actor was very careful around weapons and had been told the gun ‘was cold’.

The film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe
The film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe
Image: Jae C Hong/AP

A CAMERA OPERATOR told authorities that Alec Baldwin had been careful with weapons on the set of the film Rust before the actor shot and killed a cinematographer with a gun he had been told was safe to use.

Court records show cameraman Reid Russell told a detective that Baldwin was rehearsing a scene on Thursday in which he was set to draw his gun while sitting in a church pew and point it at the camera.

The camera was not rolling when the gun went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Russell told police.

Authorities said on Friday that the assistant director, Dave Halls, had handed the weapon to Baldwin and announced “cold gun,” indicating it was safe to use.

When asked about how Baldwin treated firearms on the set, Russell said the actor was very careful, citing an instance when Baldwin made sure a child actor was not near him when a gun was being discharged.

The affidavit also includes statements from director Joel Souza, who was standing behind Mrs Hutchins and was wounded.

It detailed the moments before the shooting and shows that there was disruption on the set the day of the shooting.

Several members of the camera crew walked off the production in a dispute over payment and how far away from the set their lodgings were, Russell said, and he was left with a lot of work to do.

Only one camera was available to shoot the scene, and it had to be moved because the light had shifted and there was a shadow.

He said he was unsure whether the weapon was checked before it was handed to Baldwin.

2.63274804 Candles are placed next to a photograph of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Source: Andres Leighton/AP

Souza said that he was focused on how the scene would appear on camera. He said he recalled hearing the phrase “cold gun” being used before the incident and that the scene they were shooting did not call for the use of live rounds.

Souza described the gunshot as sounding like a whip and a loud pop.

On Sunday, a crew member who worked with Halls on another project said she had raised safety concerns about him in 2019.

Maggie Goll, a prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician, said in a statement that she filed an internal complaint with the executive producers of Hulu’s Into The Dark series in 2019 over concerns about Halls’ behaviour on set.

Goll said Halls disregarded safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics and tried to continue filming after the supervising pyrotechnician lost consciousness on set.

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Halls has not returned phone calls and email messages seeking comment.

“This situation is not about Dave Halls… It’s in no way one person’s fault,” Goll said. “It’s a bigger conversation about safety on set and what we are trying to achieve with that culture.”

The film’s chief electrician Serge Svetnoy blamed producers for Mrs Hutchins’ death in an emotional Facebook post on Sunday.

Svetnoy said he had worked with Mrs Hutchins on multiple films and blamed “negligence and unprofessionalism” among those handling weapons on the set. He said producers had hired an inexperienced armorer.

Hollywood professionals say they are baffled by the circumstances and production crews have quickly stepped up safety measures.

Jeffrey Wright, who has worked on projects including the James Bond, was acting with a weapon on the set of Westworld when news broke of the shooting and said: “I don’t recall ever being handed a weapon that was not cleared in front of me — meaning chamber open, barrel shown to me, light flashed inside the barrel to make sure that it’s cleared. Clearly, that was a mismanaged set.”

Actor Ray Liotta agreed with Wright that the checks on firearms are usually extensive.

“They always — that I know of — they check it so you can see,” Liotta said. “They give it to the person you’re pointing the gun at, they do it to the producer, they show whoever is there that it doesn’t work.”

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