Rust crew member disputes Baldwin’s account of gun discharge

Rust crew member disputes Baldwin’s account of gun discharge. A member of the camera crew on the film “Rust” disputed claims by actor Alec Baldwin that he didn’t pull the trigger on the Colt .45 prop gun, fatally shooting the movie’s cinematographer and injuring its director.

In a statement Thursday, first camera assistant Lane Luper, through his Albuquerque attorney, countered Baldwin’s remarks — just hours before a planned ABC prime-time program. Baldwin told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos that he didn’t fire the gun during an Oct. 21 rehearsal, killing Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

“The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger. No, no, no, no, no,” Baldwin told Stephanopoulos in a clip from “Alec Baldwin Unscripted.” “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them. Never.”

Although he was not on the set the day of the shooting, Luper, through his attorney, Jacob G. Vigil, said Baldwin’s claims didn’t add up.

“Guns don’t just go off. The single action Colt .45 revolver handled by Alec Baldwin required multiple active steps to discharge and kill Halyna Hutchins,” Luper said in the statement. “The gun had to be loaded with live ammunition, held and pointed, the hammer of the weapon manually cocked, and the trigger pulled. It was not a magic self-firing weapon.”

The dispute comes amid a law enforcement investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, an FBI analysis of the weapons and ammunition involved in the shooting, and two civil lawsuits brought by two other members of the “Rust” crew who alleged that lax safety protocols by producers, including Baldwin, and the hiring of an inexperienced armorer put the entire crew in harm’s way.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has been scrutinizing the actions of Baldwin as well as assistant director David Halls and the 24-year-old armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, as part of its investigation into Hutchins’ death.

Earlier Thursday, an attorney for Halls corroborated Baldwin’s account in a TV clip posted on Twitter by ABC News.

“The entire time Baldwin had his finger outside the trigger guard, parallel to the barrel. [Halls] told me since Day 1, that he thought it was a misfire,” Halls’ attorney, Lisa Torraco, told ABC News. “Until Alec said that, it was just really hard to believe. But Dave has told me since the very first day I met him that Alec did not pull that trigger.”

Luper and six other members of the camera crew resigned from “Rust” on Oct. 20, the night before the shooting, citing gun safety issues on set, a failure to receive paychecks and the denial of requests for hotel rooms by crew members who lived in Albuquerque, about 50 miles from Bonanza Creek Ranch, where the western was being filmed.

Halls told investigators that he did not check all the rounds in the gun before it was handed to Baldwin — a major breach of safety protocol, according to an affidavit filed with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.

Gutierrez Reed — who was in charge of overseeing gun safety and usage on set — said on the day of the incident that she had ensured that the ammunition intended for production consisted of “dummies” and did not include “hot” rounds, according to the affidavit.

Luper and other members of the camera crew arrived at Bonzana Creek Ranch set before 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 21. They previously told The Times that a production manager ordered them to leave the property, and they said they did as soon as they had assembled their equipment from a camera truck parked on the edge of the set.

“The production and its producers, including Baldwin, cut corners and endangered their entire crew by failing to follow industry safety rules,” Luper said in his statement.

Rust Movie Productions said in a statement the day after Hutchins’ death that it was not aware of official safety complaints on set and that it was conducting its own review and cooperating with authorities.

A representative of Baldwin could not be immediately reached for comment.

On Tuesday, a New Mexico judge authorized a search of the Albuquerque office of PDQ Arm & Prop LLC, which is owned by “Rust” weapons provider Seth Kenney. On Wednesday, Santa Fe County sheriff’s investigators said they seized “misc. .45 ammo (suspected live), photographs, ammo can, Rust documents,” according to an inventory sheet provided to The Times.

Kenney has provided a statement to The Times saying that neither he nor his firm, PDQ Arm & Prop, provided any live ammunition to “Rust.”

When the pandemic began to ravage this jungle city, Marlon Ashanga loaded his wife, two kids and virus-stricken father into a canoe and guided them three days upriver, deep into the Amazon rainforest.

“People were getting sick everywhere, and we were scared,” recalled Ashanga, a boatman in Belen, a port district of bustling street stalls and homes on stilts. “In the forest, we could rely on natural remedies. And I knew we wouldn’t starve.

Felipe Solomón Valles fled in the opposite direction: He was with his wife teaching in a remote village when the radio carried word of a spiraling contagion and nationwide lockdown that was threatening to trap the young couple and their infant far from their families. The three slipped out in a banana boat and later trekked through the bush lugging their belongings to elude stay-at-home orders enforced by police.

More than a year after their respective getaways, the two young men — who both say they survived debilitating bouts with COVID-19 — now face the daunting challenge of how to support their families in this pandemic-battered nation, where copper mines rip through mountains and the Pacific rolls along 1,500 miles of coast. Valles and his wife are unemployed. Ashanga barely scrapes out a living.

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