Actor Alec Baldwin insisted he was not guilty of the fatal shooting of a cameraman on the set of a western being filmed in New Mexico. he was practicing a scene.
“Someone put a sharp bullet in a gun that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property,” Mr Baldwin said in a televised interview that aired Thursday night. “Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”
Mr. Baldwin made the comments in an emotional ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos, the first time Mr. Baldwin has publicly reported on what happened in October. The actor’s description of the episode may cast more criticism on crew members and suppliers, and on who was responsible for securing firearms in the low-budget production.
In the interview, excerpts of which were released Wednesday, Mr. Baldwin also said he hadn’t pulled the trigger on the gun he was practicing on the set of “Rest” when it fired a live round.
“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger—never,” said Mr. Baldwin.
The deadly shooting occurred on Oct. 21 near Santa Fe, NM, on a movie set designed as a church. Baldwin was practicing drawing an old-fashioned revolver that he had been told had no live rounds when it suddenly fired, killing the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42, and the director, Joel Souza, 48. was injured.
Mr Baldwin said he was stunned by what happened and that at least 45 minutes passed after the gun went off before realizing it could have contained a live round.
What happened on the set of ‘Rest’
“I stood over her for 60 seconds as she lay there in a bit of shock,” Mr Baldwin said.
The actor added that he didn’t cock the hammer of the gun, but pulled it back as far as possible and released it in an action that could have set it off. “I let go of the hammer – bang, the gun goes off.”
Investigators are trying to determine how a sharp bullet ended up in the gun Mr. Baldwin was practicing, why the crew members who inspected it on set didn’t notice it, and why the gun fired.
Baldwin’s claim that he failed to pull the trigger was supported by an attorney for the film’s assistant director, Dave Halls, who had been standing next to Mr. Baldwin in church when the gun went off.
The attorney, Lisa Torraco, told the ABC News show “Good Morning America” on Thursday that Mr. Halls had told her that “Baldwin had his finger outside the trigger guard the whole time, parallel to the barrel.” She said Mr Halls had told her “since day 1 he thought it was a misfire”.
In the ABC interview, Mr. Baldwin also remembered that Mr. Halls had told him shortly before the shooting, “This is a cold gun,” an industry term that implies that firearms have no sharps and are safe to use.
“When he says, ‘This is a cold gun,’ he says to everyone on set, ‘You can relax,'” said Mr. Baldwin.
Mr Baldwin, who has been criticized after the shooting, has already been questioned by detectives and is cooperating with the investigation. No one has been charged in connection with the shooting and authorities have not blamed anyone.
“I’ve got tons of people online who say, ‘You idiot, you never point a gun at anyone,'” said Mr. Baldwin. “Well, unless you’re told it’s empty and it’s the director of photography instructing you on the angle for a shot we’re about to take.”
Some weapons experts said it was possible that the weapon, a single-action revolver, would have fired without Mr. Baldwin pulling the trigger if he had pulled the hammer from the revolver and released it before it was fully cocked. But they wondered if that would have provided enough power to fire the live round.
Clay Van Sickle, a movie-industry weapons manufacturer who didn’t work on “Rest,” said guns generally only go off when someone pulls the trigger. “Unless that gun was in a terrible state of disrepair,” he said, “that gun couldn’t have gone off any other way.”
While detectives try to track down the source of the live round, the focus was on Seth Kenney, who provided blanks and dummy rounds for the production.
According to court documents filed Tuesday, detectives are trying to determine whether Mr. Kenney sent live ammunition as well as blanks and dummies, and have searched his Albuquerque company, PDQ Arm & Prop.
Mr Kenney said in an interview that he was confident he was not the source of a live round.
“It’s not possible that they came from PDQ or from me personally,” he told “Good Morning America.”
Thell Reed, a weapons expert who has worked and consulted on a number of films, has told detectives that according to court documents, he delivered live rounds to Mr. Kenney for training in another film. Mr. Reed, the father of Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the ‘Rust’ armorer, suggested they could match live rounds found on ‘Rust’.
The film’s props master Sarah Zachry has told investigators, according to court documents, that the ammunition on the set came from “several sources” — from Mr. Kenney, as well as Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, who were said to have brought back from an earlier production and from a person identified only as “Billy Ray”.
Since the fatal shooting, two crew members who were in the room when the gun went off have filed separate lawsuits, appointing Mr. Baldwin, the film’s producers and other crew members, including Mr. Halls and Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, as defendants.
Both lawsuits say Mr Baldwin should have checked the gun himself to see if it was safe to handle. In the interview, Mr. Baldwin said that on the day of the shooting, one of the accusers touched his shoulder and said he was not responsible for what happened.
Mr Baldwin declined to say which plaintiff it was. Serge Svetnoy, one of the crew members who filed a complaint, told ABC that he did tell Mr. Baldwin but later changed his mind.
The actor insisted the tragedy happened after he was given the gun and told it was safe, and that Ms Hutchins herself told him how to place it. Both he and Ms Hutchins assumed the weapon was safe to handle, he said.
“I’ll keep the gun where she told me to hold it,” Mr. Baldwin said. “I can’t imagine ever making another movie that had a gun in it.”
Matt Stevens reporting contributed.