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Disturbing details emerge surrounding ‘Rust’ movie set shooting, alleged gross incompetence behind it

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There has been significant attention paid to how actor Alec Baldwin ended up with what appears to be a loaded handgun on the set of the file “Rust,” rightfully so, after the actor fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and wounded director Joel Souza.

The man who handed Baldwin the gun, declaring it to be “cold,” meaning it was not loaded with ammunition or blanks, was assistant director Dave Halls, according to a warrant from authorities. Turns out, Halls had been previously fired from a separate project after another incident with a prop firearm, Fox News reported.

Halls was fired from a movie set in 2019 after a crew member on the film “Freedom’s Path” incurred an injury from a prop gun.

“I can confirm that Dave Halls was fired from the set of ‘Freedom’s Path’ in 2019 after a crew member incurred a minor and temporary injury when a gun was unexpectedly discharged,” a producer from the film said in a statement.

“Halls was removed from set immediately after the prop gun discharged,” the producer added. “Production did not resume filming until Dave was off-site. An incident report was taken and filed at that time.”

Another crew member who worked with Halls, Maggie Goll, told the Associated Press on Sunday that she raised concerns about him in 2019.

Goll worked with Halls on “Into the Dark,” and she told the news agency she filed an internal complaint with the executive producers over concerns about his disregard for safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics, and said he tried to continue filming after a crew member had “slipped into a diabetic fugue state.”

“There is absolutely no reason that gun safety should be ignored on set, even when it is a non-firing prop firearm,” she said.

In what the Los Angeles Times called a “grim coincidence,” Halls also worked on the sequel to The Crow, where 28-year-old Brandon Lee, son of martial artist legend Bruce Lee, was killed in 1993 after a co-star fired a prop gun that ignited a bullet fragment that became embedded in the barrel.

The gun used by Baldwin was one of three that a firearms specialist — armorer Hannah Gutierrez — had placed on a cart outside the building at Bonanza Creek Ranch, where filming was underway, Fox News reported. A scene was being rehearsed at the time and Halls was reportedly unaware live rounds were inside the firearm.

Citing crew members, the LA Times reported over the weekend that there were two accidental weapon discharges on the set before the apparent accidental shooting death of Hutchins that had triggered complaints about safety to a supervisor. The negligent firings took place inside a cabin that was being used as a set location; Hutchins was inside the cabin, according to a former crew member who spoke to the newspaper.

Speaking on condition of anonymity over fears that their future employment in the film industry could be negatively impacted, the sources were reportedly among several crew members who quit the production just a few hours before the fatal shooting.

“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” the film’s production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, noted. “We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”

The gun involved in the shooting was used by crew members off-set for fun, having been fired at gatherings not connected to the production of the film, TMZ reported. This could explain why the gun may have had live rounds in it. And another source told the outlet police found live rounds in the same location as blank rounds, which could have resulted in a fatal mix-up.

Conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager said in an op-ed that someone must go to prison for the killing of Hutchins.

“If no one goes to prison for actor Alec Baldwin’s accidental killing of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, our society will have failed a crucial moral test,” Prager wrote. “The killing was, we presume, unintentional (though we do not know for sure, as the possibility remains that someone had motive to load the gun with real ammunition). But that does not mean that no one should be held culpable and punished. Society must regard the taking of human life — even when unintentional — as something terrible.”

Serge Svetnoy, the head electrician/gaffer blamed Hutchins’ death on “the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it.”

In an emotional Facebook post, Svetnoy stated that Hutchins died as a result of both “negligence and unprofessionalism.”

“Yes, I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Halyna during this fatal shot that took her life and injured the director Joel Souza,” he wrote. “I was holding her in my arms while she was dying. Her blood was on my hands.”

Svetnoy openly questioned the qualifications of the set armorer after suggesting that budget concerns were a factor.

“I’m sure that we had the professionals in every department, but one – the department that was responsible for the weapons,” he said in the post. “There is no way a twenty-four-year-old woman can be a professional with armory; there is no way that her more-or-less the same-aged friend from school, neighborhood, Instagram, or God knows where else, can be a professional in this field.”

Tom Tillison

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