‘Rust’ set shoot: Gun couldn’t be fired without pulling trigger, FBI forensic tests show

Baldwin had the gun while rehearsing a scene from the Western film at Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico in October when a shot was fired, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
In December, Baldwin told ABC News he never pulled the trigger on the gun that shot Hutchins. “The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger,” Baldwin said.

A lawyer for the actor told CNN on Sunday that the FBI report “was misinterpreted.”

“The gun fired only once in testing – without having to pull the trigger – when the hammer was pulled and the gun broke in two different places,” said the attorney Luke Nikas in an email to CNN. “The FBI was unable to fire the gun in a pre-test, even by pulling the trigger, because it was in such poor condition.”

“The critical report is that of the medical examiner, who concluded that it was a tragic accident,” Nikas said. “This is the third time New Mexico authorities have found that Alec Baldwin had no authority or knowledge of the allegedly unsafe conditions on set, that he was told by the person in charge of security on set set that the gun was ‘cold’, ‘and I believed the gun was safe,” Nikas told CNN.

In the post-mortem summary of Hutchins’ death, which was officially signed by the New Mexico Chief Medical Investigator, the cause of death is listed as “gunshot wound to the chest” and the Manner of death is listed as an “accident”. “

“A review of available law enforcement reports has shown no compelling evidence that the firearm was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on set. Based on all available information, including the lack of obvious intent to cause injury or death, the manner of death is better classified as an accident,” the report concludes.

Baldwin, in the ABC News interview, also described cocking the gun as he spoke about the scene with Hutchins. “So I said to him, ‘Now in this scene, I’m going to the gun. And I said, ‘Do you want to see this?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’ So I take the gun and start cocking the gun. I’m not going to pull the trigger.

Cocking a revolver gun like the one used on the film set involves pulling the hammer back to prepare the gun to fire. When the pistol’s hammer is released forward with sufficient force—as occurs when the trigger is pulled—it strikes the primer of an ammunition cartridge, causing the pistol to fire.

The FBI forensic report was turned over to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office as part of the ongoing investigation into the fatal on-set shooting.

Video of Alec Baldwin's initial interview after fatal shooting on

The report found that the gun, a .45 Colt (.45 Long Colt) caliber F.lli Pietta single-action revolver, “could not be fired without pulling the trigger” with the hammer cocked at ¼ and ½ posts. He also found that when the weapon was fully cocked, it “could not be brought to fire without pulling the trigger as long as the working internals were intact and functional”.

FBI examiners observed internal malfunction of the weapon during testing in the fully cocked position, with the report noting that “portions of the sear and cylinder stop fractured while the hammer was struck.”

The FBI report noted the limitations of forensic testing, saying that “it may not be possible to recreate or duplicate all of the circumstances that led to the discharge of a firearm without pulling the trigger” .

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An attorney representing Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who served as a gunsmith and props assistant on the film, said the forensic report said “Baldwin must have pulled the trigger to fire the gun” and that the youngster 24-year-old man was used as a “scapegoat.”

Part of the Santa Fe County police investigation is focusing on how a live bullet may have gotten to the film set.
In April, Rust Movie Productions, LLC was fined nearly $137,000 and cited for having a culture of “pure indifference to employee safety” on set, according to a report from the Office of Health and Safety. New Mexico Department of Environment Occupational Safety.

CNN’s Chloe Melas contributed to this report.


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