A New Mexico sheriff made an explosive statement about the ongoing investigation of the fatal shooting involving Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin.
Baldwin, 63, shot a prop gun that killed 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins, who was directing photography for the movie.
The incident also injured 48-year-old Joel Souza who is the film’s director. Police have launched an investigation into the incident.
“I’d be careful using the word ‘accident,’” said Sante Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza.
“This is obviously a tragedy and it was avoidable, so right now it’s a criminal investigation,” he added.
Mendoza says it’s too early in the investigation to determine if charges would be filed.
“I will confirm that we haven’t ruled anybody out in regards to charges in this case.”
“It’s still an active investigation and we’re still gathering statements and facts,” said Mendoza.
Crew members on the movie set reportedly used the firearm on the morning of the fatal accident for “leisure shooting.”
In the morning, the gun was used to go “plinking.” This is a hobby in which people shoot at beer cans with live ammunition for fun.
A search warrant executed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office showed that armorer Hanna Gutierrez Reed handled the prop gun.
Reed left the weapon on a cart outside the set location they were filming.
Assistant director Dave Halls then retrieved the gun and handed it to actor Alec Baldwin announcing that it was a “cold gun,” Fox News reported.
The term indicates that a prop gun is safe to handle and not loaded with live ammunition. However, this was false. The gun had live ammunition loaded.
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The Santa Fe County sheriff said that all suspects had given an initial statement and confirmed that some of the primary people of focus had retained counsel. He elaborated that these “focused individuals” included armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, assistant director David Halls and Baldwin himself.
During an interview with detectives, Halls noted that he typically checks the barrel of the gun for obstructions while Reed opens the hatch and spins the drum to advise him whether or not it is a “cold gun,” an industry term used to announce whether a gun has live ammunition or not.
He said in an affidavit that when Reed showed him the gun before continuing rehearsal that day, he could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum.
Mendoza said Wednesday during a press conference that the bullet that killed Hutchins was recovered by medical personnel in director Joel Souza’s shoulder.
The bullet and other evidence, including several rounds of ammunition, will be sent to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis.