Assistant director says armorer handed gun to Alec Baldwin before fatal shooting of cinematographer

SANTA FE, N.M. — Courtroom testimony in the fatal shooting of a cameraman by Alec Baldwin provided new details Thursday that conflict with other, previous stories about a final security check on a revolver and who exactly handed it to the actor during rehearsal for the Western movie ‘Rest’.

Assistant director David Halls, the on-set safety coordinator, told jurors that weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who is on trial on charges of manslaughter and tampering with evidence, handed the revolver to Baldwin twice. It was first cleared of bullets, Halls testified, and then reloaded with several dummy bullets and a live bullet.

Baldwin pointed the gun at Hutchins when it went off at the film set on the outskirts of Santa Fe on October 20, 2021, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin, the star and co-producer of “Rust,” was separately indicted by a grand jury last month; his trial is scheduled for July.

“I did not see Ms. Gutierrez take the gun from Mr. Baldwin,” Halls said during questioning by the prosecutor, “but she reappeared to my left and said she had put dummy bullets in the revolver.”

The testimony of Halls, who pleaded no contest to negligent use of a firearm last year and was released on six months of unsupervised parole, could carry significant weight as prosecutors reconstruct the chain of events and custody of ammunition that led to the shooting.

He described a rudimentary safety check in which Gutierrez-Reed opened a bolt on the revolver and was able to see three or four dummy bullets inside that he recognized.

“She took a few steps toward Mr. Baldwin and handed…Baldwin the gun,” Halls testified.

Gutierrez-Reed did not testify, but told investigators in the aftermath of the shooting that she left the loaded gun in Halls’ hands and walked out of a makeshift church on the set beforehand. She has pleaded not guilty.

Baldwin, who has pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charge in his case, initially told investigators that Gutierrez-Reed handed him the gun, but later said it was Halls. The actor has said he pulled back the hammer, but not the trigger.

Halls acknowledged on the witness stand that he was “negligent in properly checking the gun” because he failed to examine all the bullets inside.

His testimony included a visceral account of being standing just 3 feet (about 1 meter) from Hutchins when the single shot rang out. As Hutchins lay on the ground, he asked if he was okay.

“She said, ‘I can’t feel my legs,’” Halls said.

Halls said he left the church to make sure someone had called 911. He added that he struggled to understand how a bullet could be fired. He returned to the church to retrieve the gun from a pew before taking it outside to be unloaded by a crew. member and inspect the ammunition.

“The idea that it was live ammunition that went off… it wasn’t computer use,” he said.

Defense attorneys say the problems on set were beyond Gutierrez-Reed’s control and have pointed to shortcomings in evidence gathering and interviews. They also say that the main ammunition supplier has not been properly investigated.

Prosecutors say Gutierrez-Reed is responsible for bringing live ammunition onto the set and she considered basic gun safety protocols optional. They say six live rounds have identical characteristics and do not match the rounds seized from the film supplier in Albuquerque.

In other court testimony Thursday, a film props supervisor who helped manage weapons on set said that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, she discarded dummy ammunition rounds from two guns while in shock and panic.

Sarah Zachry said she emptied ammunition into a dumpster from guns used by actors other than Baldwin. She called it a “reactive decision” and said she eventually told police.