Actor Alec Baldwin was usually careful with weapons on the film set of “Rust” before he allegedly shot and killed a photography director last week with a gun that he was told was safe, according to a camera operator cited in court records that were unsealed on Oct. 25.
Cameraman Reid Russell told officials that Baldwin was rehearsing a scene in which he draws his gun to point it at the camera. Russell said it wasn’t clear whether the gun was checked before it was given to Baldwin, according to the court documents.
When he fired the weapon, it was being pointed at the camera, according to the court documents.
Russell noted that Baldwin, recently known for his “Saturday Night Live” portrayal of former President Donald Trump, was typically careful when handling firearms, noting that the actor once made sure a child actor wasn’t near him when a gun was discharged.
In the incident on Oct. 21, Baldwin allegedly shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded Director Joel Souza. A day later, officials said that Assistant Director Dave Halls handed the weapon to the actor and said, “Cold gun,” indicating that it was fine to use.
“Joel stated that they had Alec sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw. Joel said he was looking over the shoulder of [Hutchins] when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop,” the Oct. 24 affidavit reads.
Hutchins was shot in the chest, according to court documents.
“Joel then vaguely remembers [Hutchins] complaining about her stomach and grabbing her midsection. Joel also said (Hutchins) began to stumble backwards and she was assisted to the ground,” the affidavit reads.
Despite Russell’s statement to officials about Baldwin’s handling of weapons, several Hollywood firearms experts told the New York Post that Baldwin may have violated the No. 1 safety rule when handling guns: Don’t point the weapon at another person regardless of whether it’s loaded or unloaded.
Firearms consultant Bryan Carpenter of Dark Thirty Film Services told the Post that “loaded or unloaded, a weapon never gets pointed at another human being.”
He noted that prop guns used in film and TV productions are typically fired at a dummy point, not at an actor, crew member, or equipment.
“You never let the muzzle of a weapon cover something you don’t intend to destroy,” he said. “All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.”