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Sense of ‘complacency’ may have lead to film set death

Alex Baldwin

Investigation is ongoing

Santa Fe County, N.M. authorities this week continued their investigation of the on-set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by actor Alec Baldwin, saying it was too early in the probe to comment on whether criminal charges will be filed. The sheriff said there appeared to be a sense of “complacency’’ on the set regarding safety measures.

Sheriff Adan Mendoza also said more than 500 rounds of ammunition —apparently a mix of blanks and dummy rounds, along with some suspected live ammunition— are among the 600 pieces of evidence that have been gathered so far in the investigation.

Additionally, Mendoza said “We believe that we have in our possession the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin. This is the firearm we believe discharged the bullet.’’

The sheriff also confirmed that a lead projectile that was apparently fired from the gun wielded by Baldwin was recovered from film director Joel Souza’s shoulder, indicating that the weapon that had been declared safe by an on-set assistant director was actually loaded with a live round.

“In reference to possible charges, it’s too early right now in the investigation to comment on charges at this point,’’ Mendoza said.

“The investigation will continue, and if the sheriff’s office determines during our investigation a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed. Otherwise we will complete our investigation and forward the full investigation and evidence to the District Attorney for review,’’ the sheriff said.

Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, likewise, said it’s too early in the investigation to comment on charges, but that all options are on the table and no one has been ruled out.

She said crew members who handled guns before Baldwin have been interviewed, and will be interviewed again.

Meanwhile, production on the movie “Rust’’ remains suspended.

Baldwin, 63, was rehearsing a scene outside a church on the set of the western “Rust’’ south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, last Thursday when he discharged the prop weapon, killing the 42-year-old Hutchins and injuring Souza, 48.

Practically since the inception of the American motion picture industry, the Antelope Valley has been home to filming westerns. Many of the expected changes in the handling of firearms and ammunition will likely take place here first.