This clash caused a handful of workers to quit the film, resulting in a last-minute stampede. “During the morning hours, the day started late due to a film crew who had resigned,” the search warrant document reads. “[Producers] had to find another film crew to help film the movie.
The manager suggested to investigators that they might have had even more cameras on if they hadn’t run out of staff, but after recruiting a replacement team, they only had enough workers for one. single installation. It slowed things down even more.
Cano asked the director if this tension had an impact on the behavior of the team that showed up for work. “He said everyone got along fine,” the document reads. “There haven’t been any altercations to his knowledge.” Russell, the camera operator, confirmed this claim.
The scene camera in the old church was being set up before lunch, then the crew took a break around 12:30 p.m. Afterwards, they came back to continue repeating the sequence.
Souza told the investigator that during this period, “due to his work, he was more focused on the monitors of the cameras and screens,” Cano wrote.
The director told the detective that to his knowledge only three people had handled the weapon: Gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez, assistant director Dave Halls, and Baldwin himself.
As the actor and filmmakers gathered for the rehearsal, the prop gun sat on a gray cart outside the church. This indirect transfer between the gunsmith and the assistant director was deliberate, Cano wrote: “[It] was left outside the structure due to COVID-19 restrictions. “
Baldwin was preparing to do a “cross draw”. This meant that the gun was enclosed on the opposite side of his body from the firing hand, with the hilt on his abdomen and the barrel pointing down and to the side.
A cross pull is largely a horizontal movement: you reach into your midsection, grab the grip, and rotate it to aim. When the pistol is stored on the same side as the shooting hand, firing it is more of a vertical gesture. Cross prints aren’t the most efficient way to handle a weapon, but they look classy and are commonly done in movies and TV shows.
Baldwin had grown a bushy white beard and long, unkempt hair for his role, and he was dressed in old-fashioned clothes as rehearsals began in the church after lunch. The actor took his place and “one of the props was then grabbed by the assistant manager (Dave Halls)” from the trolley that gunsmith Gutierrez had set up outside, Cano wrote.
“As the Deputy Director (Dave Halls) handed the gun to actor Alec Baldwin, (Dave Halls) shouted ‘Cold gun’ indicating the prop-gun had no live ammunition,” added the detective. The investigator says he later learned that Halls “did not know that live ammunition was in the propeller pistol.”
The director, Souza, also said he heard the announcement of the “cold snap”. “According to Joel, he believed the weapon used in the rehearsal was safe,” Cano wrote.
The director told the investigator his understanding that “the guns are checked by Hannah, who is the gunsmith, then the gun is checked by Deputy Director Dave Halls, who then gives it to the actor using the firearm ”.
It is not clear from the search warrant documents what efforts, if any, Halls may have taken to verify the weapon. No statement from the deputy director or the gunsmith is included in the documents.
After picking up the gun, Baldwin sat down on a wooden bench and prepared to go through the sequence. The director said: “The rehearsal involved actor Alec Baldwin drawing his gun and pointing the gun at the camera lens.”
The church on the set of Bonanza Creek Ranch seems to have been around forever, but everything about this vast expanse of land is relatively recent construction, supplied with electricity and water to recruit film and television productions. Hollywood has been building sets here since the 1955s The Man of Laramie, with James Stewart, and the property has been a place for everything from Silverado and Lonely dove To Cowboys and aliens and All pretty horses.
The church is a small structure with four windows on each side and two large windows at the rear above the altar, with a smaller one at the top in the center. A cross stands atop its stocky steeple. The wood that makes up its exterior is bleached by the sun and the rain. The building looks worn and run down, more of a termite feast than a place of worship.
Russell, the camera operator, told investigators Baldwin already had the gun when he entered the church to get behind the camera. A new complication had occurred during the lunch break: the sun had moved. “Reid said that while getting ready there was a shadow coming from the outside light and they had to move the camera to a different angle from Alec,” the search warrant document reads.
Baldwin was consulting with the filmmakers about where he would be positioned and how he would move. “Alec was trying to explain how he was going to get the gun out and where his arm would be when the gun was out of the holster,” the cameraman told investigators.
That’s when it started.
“Reid was not sure why the gun was unloaded and just remembered the loud bang,” the document reads. The camera operator said no video or audio was being recorded.
The detective also wanted to know about Baldwin’s behavior on set, which led to an anecdote about how the actor tried to protect a young viewer in a different sequence. “Reid said Alec was very careful and brought up an instance where a scene was being filmed earlier,” the document reads. “Reid said Alec made sure it was safe and that a child was not near him when they were discharging a gun in this scene.”
Cano asked the director about the possibility of real bullets being caused to land. “Joel said as far as he knows, nobody is checked for live ammunition on his person before and after the shooting of the scenes,” wrote the investigator. “The only thing verified is the firearms to prevent live ammunition from there. Joel said there should never be live rounds, near or around the stage.
After Hutchins and Souza were taken away by rescue personnel, investigators began collecting materials at the scene. “The incident occurred nearby, which may lead to a transfer of evidence,” the document said.