After fifteen months of grief, lawsuits, and investigations, charges have been filed concerning the 2021 accidental shooting on the set of the Western Rust, which resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Lead actor Alec Baldwin (who fired the gun) and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed both face involuntary manslaughter charges for the on-set death.
Scroll on for a complete timeline of the shooting and subsequent investigation leading up to today.
While filming on the Bonanza Creek Ranch outside of Santa Fe, Baldwin fired a prop gun during a scene that killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.
According to the investigation conducted by police, assistant director David Halls handed the gun to Baldwin to film a scene inside the ranch’s church. Hall yelled “cold gun” to the cast and crew, indicating that the weapon did not contain live rounds. The gun went off in what was described as an accidental “misfire” by the film’s production team; both Souza and Hutchins were transported to a nearby hospital, where Hutchins was pronounced dead.
Following the shooting, reports emerged that the crew had complained about safety issues on set prior to the incident; some crew members had even walked out and were reportedly replaced by non-union crew. Some complaints specifically targeted AD David Halls’ behavior, as stories emerged that he had been fired from a previous job after a crew member was injured by the unexpected firing of a gun on set.
As the investigation into the shooting launched, the producers of Rust “made the decision to wrap the set at least until investigations are complete.” Meanwhile, the L.A. Times published the search warrant from the set which detailed the events leading up to the shooting and identified three individuals who handled the gun that day: Baldwin, Halls, and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed.
Further information began to emerge about the Rust set that painted an even clearer picture of an unsafe working environment. Per Variety, Sheriff Adan Mendoza said in a statement 500 rounds of ammunition—including blanks, dummy rounds and “possibly” live rounds—were recovered from the set. The sheriff stated in no uncertain terms that the live rounds “shouldn’t have been there” in the first place.
In what would become an ongoing effort to “clear his name,” Baldwin issued a cross complaint accusing Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, David Halls, prop master Sarah Zachry, and weapons supplier Seth Kenney of negligence. The suit claimed that due to these individuals, while Hutchins’ family suffered the most, Baldwin “must live with the immense grief, and the resulting emotional, physical, and financial toll.” Gloria Allred, representing Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell (who filed her own suit against Baldwin), accused the actor of “a shameful attempt to shift the blame to others.”
In December, Baldwin broke his silence with an in-depth interview with ABC News in which he protested his complete innocence in the shooting. He claimed not to even have pulled the trigger of the gun. He stated that he pointed the weapon in the direction that Hutchins told him to, and had merely “let go of the hammer of the gun” when it went off. He claimed to have no knowledge of any safety complaints on set, and denied responsibility for the matter by stating he was a “purely creative producer.”
Baldwin checked in from filming an undisclosed project in Hampshire, England, sharing: “I haven’t worked since Oct. 21st of last year when this horrible thing happened on the set of this film and we had the accidental death of our cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins... I still find that hard to say.”
A new year didn’t mean any fewer Rust lawsuits, and Hutchins’ estate filed a wrongful death suit in February 2022 against Baldwin, as well as Rust’s production companies, producers, and multiple crew members. In a statement, attorney Brian Panish alleged that “reckless behavior and cost-cutting lead to the senseless tragic death of Halyna Hutchins.”
Panish also directly addressed Baldwin’s presence in the suit, stating: “There are many people culpable, but Mr. Baldwin was the person holding the weapon that, but [if not] for him shooting it, she would not have died.”
Hutchins’ husband Matt gave his first public interview on her loss in February, speaking with TODAY’s Hoda Kotb. During the conversation, he placed culpability for Hutchins’ death on both lackluster onset safety protocols and Alec Baldwin himself.
“The idea that the person holding the gun and causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd to me,” he said.
In late April, New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) slapped Rust’s production company with a $136,793 fine over Hutchins’ death— the maximum penalty for the film’s safety protocol failings. In the report, the OHSB cited the production’s “plain indifference to the safety of employees” on set.
Responding to the announcement on Instagram, Baldwin’s team expressed gratitude for the report; namely, how it “exonerates Mr. Baldwin by making clear that he believed the gun held only dummy rounds” and “recognizes that Mr. Baldwin’s authority on the production was limited to approving script changes and creative casting.”
In August, the FBI completed a forensic analysis of the shooting. In their report, they found that the gun involved “could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger,” casting doubt on initial claims made by Baldwin that he never pulled the trigger.
Nearly a year after the shooting, Baldwin and Rust’s producers reached a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hutchins’ estate. As part of the agreement, the movie would complete production with Hutchins’ husband Matt Hutchins as an executive producer.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” Hutchins said of the decision at the time. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
After reaching a settlement, Rust production began seeking out a new location in California. An insider told Deadline at the time that it was “emotionally difficult for the crew and the cast to return to the same place” where Hutchins lost her life. Location scouting mostly focused around Palm Springs and the Nevada border.
Alec Baldwin and Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed were both charged on January 19 with involuntary manslaughter. Dave Halls, assistant director on the film, already pled guilty to charges of “negligent use of a deadly weapon,” and will receive six months of probation, according to Variety.