Alec Baldwin will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a Santa Fe movie set, New Mexico prosecutors announced Thursday. Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will also be charged.
Baldwin fatally shot Hutchins with a Colt .45-caliber firearm while preparing to film a scene for the movie Rust in October 2021. A crew member had reportedly yelled “cold gun” as she handed Baldwin the weapon, suggesting that it was not loaded with live rounds. Baldwin has claimed that he did not pull the trigger, but the FBI said that the gun “could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger.”
“Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me,” Baldwin said in an ABC News interview last year.
Still, as my colleague Noah Lanard reported shortly after the shooting, tensions over labor conditions had been brewing on set, and the prop gun had already misfired multiple times. Crew members told the Los Angeles Times that gun safety protocols were not strictly followed, and one camera assistant quit the day before the shooting, citing “fast and loose” safety procedures. The film’s line producer had previously chastised Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer, who was also hired as a props assistant, for focusing too much on armor and not enough on props. Gutierrez-Reed reportedly responded, “When I’m forced to do both [jobs], that’s when mistakes get made.” Crew members suggested that filming quickly was more important on set than safety.
It remains unclear how live ammunition wound up on the Rust set. The New Mexico prosecutors have not yet released the evidence they compiled, but New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement that she found it sufficient to file criminal charges against Baldwin.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative,” meaning that juries will have two different definitions of involuntary manslaughter under which they can find the defendants guilty. Each is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine, but one of the charges could also include a firearm enhancement, which would carry a mandatory five-year prison term.
David Halls, the assistant director on the film, signed a plea agreement for a suspended sentence and six months of probation.