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Authorities to present findings in ‘Rust’ movie-set shooting

A musician plays a violin behind a photograph of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a vigil in her honor Saturday in Albuquerque. Hutchins was fatally shot on Thursday after an assistant director unwittingly handed actor Alec Baldwin a loaded weapon and told him it was safe to use on the set of a Western filmed in Santa Fe. (Andres Leighton/Associated Press)

SANTA FE – Investigators plan to discuss their initial findings Wednesday in the fatal movie-set shooting in which Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun, killing a cinematographer and wounding the director.

The news conference by Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies promises the first detailed public comments by investigators about the killing of 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal at a New Mexico ranch.

The sequence of events on Oct. 21 has baffled Hollywood professionals and prompted calls to better regulate firearms of sets or even ban them in the age of seamless computer-generated imagery.

Court records say that an assistant director, Dave Halls, grabbed the gun from a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating the weapon was safe by yelling “cold gun.” But it was loaded with live rounds, according to a written affidavit from a detective.

Baldwin, 63, who is known for his roles in “30 Rock,” “The Departed” and “The Hunt for Red October” along with impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” has described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press before the news conference that the investigation is still in its early stages – far from any decisions about whether to file criminal charges.

She said those involved in the production were cooperating with law enforcement and that prosecutors won’t fully review evidence until the completion of an initial investigation by the sheriff’s office.

The gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or “armorer,” had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.

Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins and was wounded, told investigators there should never be live rounds present whatsoever near the scene.

Authorities have seized three black revolvers, gun belts with holsters, ammunition boxes, a fanny pack with ammunition, several spent casings and articles of clothing and swabs of what were believed to be blood.

The production of “Rust” has been beset by workplace disputes from the start in early October. Hours before the shooting, several camera crew members walked off the set amid discordabout working conditions, including safety procedures.

Baldwin in his role as actor appeared unlikely to be held criminally or civilly liable for the tragedy. As a producer, however, he is among a long list of associates on the film who could face some sort of liability.

Concerns have been raised about Halls’ safety record by colleagues on two previous productions. Halls has not returned phone calls and email messages seeking comment.

Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is cooperating with Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and conducting its own internal review of procedures with the production shut down.