The criminal investigation into the fatal shooting at an American movie starring Alec Baldwin is “almost finished,” the officer leading the investigation said on Tuesday.
Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza’s comments come as his department released a slew of material about the incident that claimed the life of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the low-budget western “Rust,” which includes footage of Baldwin apparently practicing with the gun that killed her. .
“We have estimated a time frame … in weeks and not months,” Mendoza told ABC broadcaster.
“There are some things that we are expecting in the final report from the FBI regarding the analysis of the firearm, ammunition, latent prints and DNA.
“We are also waiting for the medical investigator’s office to complete their report and analysis of some more cell phone data.”
Cinematographer Hutchins, 42, died after being struck by a live bullet that exited the gun Baldwin was holding while rehearsing on the New Mexico set in October.
Baldwin, who was a producer and star of the film, was told the gun was safe and previously said he did not pull the trigger.
Footage released by the sheriff’s department shows first responders rushing to treat Hutchins, as well as a dazed Baldwin’s first encounters with police.
Other clips, apparently from the now-abandoned film, show the Hollywood star in period dress sitting on the wooden church pew and drawing the Colt pistol, which he points in the direction of the camera.
The moment of the shooting, in which director Joel Souza was also injured, is not seen.
– Criminal charges –
Strict measures are supposed to be implemented on movie sets to prevent tragedies, including the exclusive use of dummy or blank cartridges in any production involving firearms.
But a health and safety investigation by New Mexico officials, which imposed a fine of more than $136,000, said last week that growers had shown “simple disregard” to these protocols.
Mendoza said Tuesday that the provenance of the live bullet that killed Hutchins was “one of the key questions” in the criminal investigation.
“No one came forward and admitted to bringing ammunition to the set,” he said.
The plethora of material includes messages from Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the young gunsmith responsible for on-set weaponry, referring to the use of real rounds in another film.
“That’s concerning, because it was only a few months before ‘Rust’ production went into effect,” Mendoza said. “And these are some of the same employees and people who played a role in the production of ‘Rust’.”
Mendoza said a decision had not yet been made on whether Baldwin would face criminal charges.
“He was the one who handled the gun that fired the round that caused the death and injury,” he said.
“We are going to work in conjunction with the (prosecutor’s) office to determine if there is criminal negligence or criminal charges.”
Although no criminal charges have been filed to date, there have been a number of civil lawsuits.
Hutchins’ family has sued Baldwin and other “Rust” producers, seeking “substantial” damages for his wrongful death.
The film’s chief lighting technician and script supervisor have launched other proceedings against the producers.
Gutierrez-Reed has sued the film’s ammunition supplier, accusing him of leaving real bullets among the fake cartridges.
Baldwin told a television interviewer in December that Hutchins had instructed him to point the gun in his direction and did not pull the trigger.
“I feel like someone is responsible for what happened and I can’t say who it is. But I know it’s not me.”