Alec Baldwin Faces Criminal Charges


Los Angeles Times

Bonanza Creek Ranch set of “Rust” located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Britney Henderson, Staff Writer

Producer and actor Alec Baldwin, as well as armor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injury of one other crew member on the set of Rust, an old time western film.  

In October 2021, the filming of Rust took an unexpected turn on the secluded Bonanza Creek Ranch, when a gun on set fired; killing a cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring Baldwin’s fellow producer Joel Souza (The New York Times). Baldwin, who was in possession of the gun when it went discharged, has repeatedly claimed to never have touched the trigger. Gutierrez-Reed, armor on set, had cleared the gun for safe use and labeled it a “cold gun,” meaning there would be no rounds in the chamber and it could be handled by actors or crew members. Formal charges were filed by prosecutors on Tuesday, January 30th, 2023 for both individuals (CBS News). 

Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nika, has been vocal since the charges, stating, “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set…He relied on the professionals with whom he worked.” Nika attempts to further his clients’ innocence by reminding the public, “an actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert.”

However, New Mexico’s district attorney and law enforcement disagree.  They revealed FBI analysis that puts Baldwin’s prints on the trigger of the revolver (The New York Times).  Additionally, after looking further into the set and scenes of the movie, officials found safety concerns that were ignored, despite many complaints.  In an Associated Press interview, district attorney Carmack Altwies reveals, “the set was run pretty fast and loose.” The lack of structure on set raised lodging concerts from the camera crew, formal complaints from actors and crew members, and resulted in three other misfires from various guns (The New York Times). The prosecution also places a high emphasis on the fact that Baldwin was more than just an actor on this set, but a co-producer as well.  Due to his authority, safety should have been a high priority of Baldwin’s and he should have never simply taken someone’s word for the condition of the gun; especially since he was going to point it directly at a camera.  

Ensuring the safety of weapons on set is an armor’s job, but is a responsibility shared by many. At the time, Gutierrez-Reed was the reported armor on set, however law enforcement received conflicting reports on who handed Baldwin the gun. These discrepancies led officials to assistant director David Halls, who also oversaw safety on set.  Halls has since signed a plea agreement in which he pleads guilty to negligence of a deadly weapon (NPR).

Gutierrez-Reed has since pointed to a possible source of the ammunition, Seth Kenny, the supplier of the film’s weapons. Although this will not help her defense, the armor has individually filed a lawsuit against Kenny and his company for supposedly mixing live ammunition with dummy rounds and sending it to set (The New York Times). However, law enforcement has found no evidence to place charges of their own. Instead they found more live ammunition on a prop cart and in a belt Baldwin wore on set, but have yet to find the origin of where they came from (The New York Times).  

Changes in the cast and crew are expected to be seen as the production of Rust is predicted to resume later this month.  Last year in an attempt to settle the wrongful death lawsuit of his wife, it was agreed Mathew Hutchins would become an executive producer of the film (The New York Times). As far as lead actors in the film, Baldwin hopes to return to set and continues to stand by his statement in which he says, “I know 1,000 percent I’m not responsible for what happened to her.” He rather chooses to emphasize to the audience the effect this will have on his career, and the overall reviews or ratings of the movie.

With no clear answers as to how ammunition ended up on the Rust set, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will not yet be arrested, but have been issued to appear in court as the prosecution presents their evidence, and relies on a judge’s approval to go to trial.