Criminal charges 'on the table' in deadly shooting on 'Rust' set: District attorney

ABC News
ABC News

Criminal charges are "on the table" in last week's prop gun misfire incident on the set of "Rust" that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead and director Joel Souza hospitalized, a local district attorney said.

"We haven't ruled out anything. Everything at this point, including criminal charges, is on the table," Santa Fe First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack Altwies told ABC News Tuesday regarding the shooting on the New Mexico set.

Producers have indefinitely paused production on the Western amid an investigation into Thursday's deadly incident.

In a letter to the crew sent Sunday, the production team offered their support for Hutchins' family and for crew members who have been devastated by the shooting.

MORE: Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer killed on the 'Rust' set, was a 'rising star'

They are donating to the Halyna Hutchins Scholarship Fund established by Halyna's family and matching any donations by the crew, according to the letter.

In the meantime, the producers said they are pausing production on the film until the investigation into the incident is complete, and that they are cooperating with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office.
Jae C. Hong/AP - PHOTO: A security guard manning the entrance to the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set locks the gate after turning away workers who came to pick up equipment in Santa Fe, N.M., Oct. 25, 2021.

"Although our hearts are broken, and it is hard to see beyond the horizon, this is, at the moment, a pause rather than an end. The spirit that brought us all to this special place remains," they wrote.

Crew members arrived on the set throughout the day Monday to pick up belongings and other gear.

The incident occurred when Dave Halls, an assistant director, handed the prop gun -- one of three on hand -- to star Alec Baldwin and said, "Cold gun," to let the crew know that a gun with no live rounds was being handled, according to a search warrant from Santa Fe County obtained by ABC News.

MORE: Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dies after prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin fires live round

Baldwin then fired, hitting Hutchins and Souza. Both victims were transported to hospitals and Hutchins died later that evening.

Souza survived and the producers said the director is recuperating.

"We are supporting him however we can knowing just how difficult his journey is," they wrote in the letter.
Jae C. Hong/AP - PHOTO: A worker, who said he came to pick up some equipment, walks toward security guards at the entrance to the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set in Santa Fe, N.M., Oct. 25, 2021.

Halls told investigators that he didn't know there were rounds in the gun when he handed it to Baldwin, according to the warrant.

This is not the first time that Halls has allegedly been involved in an on-set mishap involving a gun, according to a crew member who worked with him in the past.

A producer on the unreleased movie "Freedom's Path" told ABC News that Halls was fired from the 2019 production after "a crew member incurred a minor and temporary injury when a gun was unexpectedly discharged."

"Production did not resume filming until Dave was off-site. An incident report was taken and filed at that time," the producer, who asked not to be named, told ABC News in a statement.

MORE: On-set prop gun supervisor walks through safety procedures, industry standards

Halls has not responded to requests for comment from ABC News.

Baldwin released a statement Friday expressing his condolences for Hutchins and her family, and said he was cooperating with the investigation.

Gloria Allred, who is representing Mamie Mitchell, a script supervisor on the film who called 911 after the shooting, said Tuesday that the firm is also conducting its own investigation "because there are many unanswered questions."

"Halyna was a friend and close colleague of Mamie. She is devastated by the loss of her friend who was an extraordinary woman," Allred said in a statement to ABC News. "Mamie has been interviewed by the Sheriff's Department. She has information and evidence which she believes will be helpful in this investigation."
Mario Anzuoni/Reuters - PHOTO: People attend a vigil for late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on the film set of "Rust", in Burbank, Calif., Oct. 24, 2021.

Crew members on the film's New Mexico set had previously raised safety concerns, ABC News has learned.

Gun safety concerns had been "brushed off" by the film's producers, a camera crew member told ABC News after the incident.

MORE: Hilaria Baldwin speaks out about fatal shooting on 'Rust' set

In a statement released last week, Rust Movie Productions LLC said it was not aware of prop safety complaints. The producers told the crew they are "conducting an internal review of safety protocols," but declined to comment on any reports about the set that have appeared in the media since the shooting.

"As with any ongoing investigation, we are limited in our ability to say anything further publicly or privately, and ask for your patience in that regards," they wrote.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's office and Santa Fe District Attorney's office are slated to offer an update on the investigation Wednesday.

ABC News' Brandon Bodow, Courtney Condron and Maryellen Schwisow contributed to this report.

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