Alec Baldwin shooting investigation recovered ‘lead projectile’ believed to have killed

This aerial photo shows a film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on Thursday, Oct. 21, killing the cinematographer, officials said.

Jae C. Hong | AP

Investigators looking into the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western film “Rust” are still collecting evidence and are not yet ready to determine if charges should be brought in the case.

“It is too early to comment on charges,” said Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza during a joint press conference Wednesday with the First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies.

Mendoza told reporters that investigators believe they have the gun and spent casing that was used in their possession and have recovered a lead projectile from the shoulder of director Joel Souza. That projectile is believed to have killed Hutchins.

He said 500 rounds were located on set, which were a mix of blank ammunition, dummy rounds and, possibly, live rounds. Mendoza declined to comment on how live rounds may have gotten on set. Evidence collected will be submitted to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia for analysis, he said.

Other items collected from the set included clothing, accessories and three firearms. One is a long Colt revolver, which authorities believe is what was used in the shooting. The others were a single-action revolver that may have been modified and a plastic prop gun that was described as a revolver.

“We are not at that juncture yet,” said Carmack-Altwies about the possibility of bringing charges against any members “Rust” crew.

“If the facts in evidence and law support charges, then I will initiate prosecution at that time. I’m a prosecutor that was elected in part because I do not make rash decisions and I do not rush to judgment,” she said.

Mendoza said the film industry has a history of following safety procedures when it comes to on-set firearms and prop weapons and there seems to have been “complacency” on the set of “Rust.”

“The people that inspected or handled the firearm when it was loaded before it got to Mr. Baldwin — we’re interviewing. And there [are] some follow-up questions that we need to do,” Mendoza said.

This update comes just a day after the producers of “Rust” hired a high-profile law firm to interview cast and crew about the accidental on-set shooting.

Court documents released Friday show actor Alec Baldwin was handed a loaded weapon by assistant director Dave Halls. Halls had retrieved the gun from a cart, where it had been placed by the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed. Halls indicated it was safe to use moments before Baldwin fatally shot Hutchins and wounded Souza.

A search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court shows that the assistant director did not know the prop gun was loaded with live rounds.

Halls had previously been fired from the set of “Freedom’s Path” in 2019 after a crew member incurred a minor and temporary injury when a gun unexpectedly discharged, a producer on the project told NBC.

There were also reports that the gun that killed Hutchins was used by crew members for live-ammunition target practice. The Wrap was the first to report this detail.

Additionally, a person familiar with the matter told NBC News that half a dozen camera crew workers walked off the “Rust” set in protest of working conditions just hours before the shooting took place. Among their concerns were multiple accidental discharges of the prop gun.

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