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‘Too early’ to rule out criminal charges for anyone in ‘Rust’ shooting, sheriff says

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza speaks during a news conference at the Santa Fe County Public Safety Building. (Sam Wasson/Getty Images/TNS)

It’s “too early” to rule out criminal charges for anyone involved in the tragic “Rust” shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in New Mexico last October, the Santa Fe County sheriff said Tuesday.

Officials continue to investigate how live ammunition got onto the Western film’s set at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, where Hutchins was fatally shot by a prop gun being handled by star Alec Baldwin, Sheriff Adan Mendoza told NBC’s “Today” show.

The set of the movie “Rust” at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where a fatal shooting occurred on the set last October. (Sam Wasson/Getty Images/TNS)

His comments came a day after the sheriff’s office released photos and videos from their investigation, including footage of Baldwin rehearsing with a gun before the incident.

“No one’s come forward and admitted to bringing the live rounds onto the movie set,” Mendoza said Tuesday. “There was information from text messages that was concerning based on the fact that live ammo was spoken about and was possibly used on a prior movie set, and that was just a few months before the ‘Rust’ movie set and production began.”

The footage released Monday shows Baldwin in costume on the movie’s set, where he is seen pointing a revolver gun toward a camera. The footage doesn’t include audio.

Baldwin has said he doesn’t feel responsible for the shooting, claiming he was told the gun was “cold” to indicate it wasn’t loaded.

On Tuesday, Mendoza said of Baldwin, “Whether he’s responsible or not will be up to the district attorney’s office.”

The sheriff later said he doesn’t believe “anybody’s off the hook when it comes to criminal charges.”

“Rust” director Joel Souza was also wounded when the firearm discharged on the movie’s set on Oct. 21.

Mendoza said his office released the new images and videos on Monday to fulfill a public records request and to remain “transparent in the investigation.”

“The investigative case right now is 200-plus pages, so there is a lot of information,” Mendoza said.

“We’re still waiting on the forensics from the FBI crime lab, along with the final report from the office of the medical investigator, and there’s a few things that we have to shore up with the investigation so it’s hard to determine right now the route that the case is going to go.”

He said he believes “there was complacency” on the movie’s set.

“There was disorganization and a degree of negligence,” Mendoza told the “Today” show. “Whether that rises to a criminal level, that will be up to the district attorney.”

Baldwin, 64, was also a producer on “Rust,” which suspended production immediately after the shooting. The incident is the subject of multiple lawsuits, including a wrongful death suit from Hutchins’ family naming Baldwin and others within the movie’s team of producers, crew and production groups.

Last month, Baldwin said at the Boulder International Film Festival that he believes the lawsuits focus on the wrong people.

He previously stressed his innocence during an interview with ABC News last December.

“Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property,” Baldwin said at the time. “Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”


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