Baldwin floated sabotage theory on 'Rust' shooting - Albuquerque Journal

Baldwin floated sabotage theory on ‘Rust’ shooting

The scene inside a small church on a movie set following a fatal shooting last year in Santa Fe. The image is from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office in April. (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Weeks after fatally shooting a woman on the set of “Rust,” actor Alec Baldwin messaged the dead woman’s husband that the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office “may lack both the skill and the will” to investigate whether the shooting was an act of sabotage.

The messages from Baldwin to widower Matt Hutchins were detailed in investigative reports released by the sheriff’s office on Friday.

The investigation into the October 2021 shooting is ongoing and nobody has been charged in the incident, which left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, dead and director Joel Souza wounded.

Actor Alec Baldwin (Associated Press photo)

Baldwin told Matt Hutchins, according to the report, he initially dismissed sabotage claims but he was told the sheriff’s office agenda “is to write it off as an accident and throw it to the civil courts.”

“The more information that is presented to me about certain anomalies on that day, the more open minded I become,” Baldwin wrote. “… I hope these NM have the sense to follow it through.”

When Hutchins asked Baldwin who told him of the “agenda” he replied that it came from “multiple attorneys.”

Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney, said he fully cooperated with the investigation and “fully preserved all records related to Rust and turned them over to the authorities nearly a year ago.”

The incident unfolded on Oct. 21, 2021, when Baldwin discharged a Colt .45 during a rehearsal at the Bonanza Creek movie set near Santa Fe, striking Hutchins and Souza. Deputies allege armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed loaded the gun from an ammunition box containing both dummy and live rounds, and assistant director David Halls declared the gun “cold,” meaning unloaded, before handing it to Baldwin.

The sheriff’s office investigation has centered on why a live round was inside the gun and how several others made it onto the movie set, where live ammunition is forbidden.

The shooting made international headlines and revealed there were multiple misfires and other safety violations in the days leading up to the incident.

In April the state Environment Department levied a $136,793 civil penalty on the production company for its failure to “keep employees safe.” The production company has appealed the case and a hearing is set for next April.

Several lawsuits have been filed since the incident, from Baldwin himself, Hutchins’ family, Gutierrez-Reed and other crew members. Hutchins’ family announced they settled their lawsuit last month, announcing filming of the Western will continue in January and Matt Hutchins will serve as an executive producer.

Jason Bowles, while serving as an attorney for Gutierrez-Reed, was one of the first to publicly level sabotage allegations following the shooting.

Deputies found five live rounds scattered around the set, including one mixed with dummy rounds in an ammo box that they found Gutierrez-Reed’s fingerprints on, according to the investigative reports released Friday.

In August, deputies were given an extraction of calls, emails and messages from Baldwin’s phone, according to the report.

Two days after the shooting Baldwin sent an email to his assistant: “I have to delete my archive.” An investigator wrote, “there is no further details on the meaning of this message.”

Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney, said the email was “irrelevant to this matter” and Baldwin was referring to his Twitter archive, “which he has long considered deleting.”

On Oct. 24, 2021, Hutchins tells Baldwin he is sure his attorneys would tell him not to speak with Baldwin and on Nov. 11, 2021, Baldwin messaged him “I will leave you be for a while.”

On Dec. 1, Baldwin messaged back that Hutchins’ lawyer sent him a cease and desist letter but he keeps messaging Hutchins, saying the gun “WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE FIRED” in that camera angle and that he and Halyna had something in common: “we both believed the gun was empty.”

On Dec. 10, Baldwin told Hutchins “important for you to keep in mind” that deputies may not investigate the “sabotage angle,” according to the report. Days earlier, Baldwin messaged Souza that the investigation “interview process and aftermath were uncomfortable to say the least.”

Baldwin continued, “I believe that the DA may not announce anything for awhile. And, therefore, I had to say something. There is so much misinformation out there.”

Between November and December 2021, Baldwin messaged an investigator on the case asking “if there is a possibility he will be charged,” according to the report.

“Alec asks when the investigation will be completed, as it’s putting a strain on his work,” according to the report.

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