Dave Halls, the assistant director who on Thursday handed Alec Baldwin the gun with which he accidentally killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, was fired from a film shoot for another similar accident in 2019.
In 2019, Halls was working as an assistant director on the film Freedom’s Path when a loaded gun accidentally went off on set and nearly injured a sound technician, the film’s production company Rocket Soul Studios said in a statement. The assistant was also in charge of handing out guns to the cast and was “removed from the set immediately.”
“Dave (Halls) was very sorry for the events and understood the reasons for his termination. A new assistant director, as well as a new gunsmith, was hired to shoot the principal photography. Production of the film was successfully completed,” the production company explained.
Authorities in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, are investigating whether the lack of gun supervision by the production’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and the assistant director caused the incident in which Baldwin accidentally shot Hutchins during the filming of Rust.
According to Baldwin’s and director Joe Souza’s affidavits, Halls handed the gun to Baldwin at the cry of “cold gun,” which in Hollywood parlance refers to a gun without ammunition.
After receiving the gun, Baldwin fired pointing it at the camera lens wielded by Hutchins, unaware that it contained real bullets instead of a blank cartridge.
However, although Halls was responsible for handing the gun to the actor, the production had a professional gunsmith who had to supervise all the weapons on the set.
For this reason, the investigation also focuses on Gutiérrez Reed, a 24-year-old woman who was working on her second film as a gunsmith and who had three guns in her charge on that day of shooting.
Statements from crew members working on the filming of Rust, a western produced by and starring Baldwin, describe a precarious work environment in which protests piled up, resignations occurred and safety protocols were allegedly not strictly followed.