Law enforcement officials in New Mexico said Wednesday that they suspect a real bullet was loaded in the antique revolver used in a movie-set shooting by actor Alec Baldwin that killed the film's cinematographer and wounded its director.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said a lead slug taken from wounded film director Joel Souza's shoulder came from the F.LLI Pietta Long Colt .45 caliber revolver that Baldwin fired during a dress rehearsal Thursday afternoon for the Western movie "Rust" at the Bonanza Creek Ranch studio near Santa Fe.
Mendoza said the same shot mortally wounded cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who later died at a hospital.
Mendoza declined to say whether negligence was involved in the incident or who was responsible for putting the live round into the Colt revolver Baldwin fired.
"I think there was some complacency on this set and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico," Mendoza said.
The sheriff said three guns were seized from the scene, including the Colt revolver. He described the other guns as an apparently non-functioning .45 caliber revolver and a plastic non-functioning prop gun.
He also said 500 rounds of ammunition were also seized that included a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and live rounds.
"We believe that we have in our possession the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin. This is the firearm we believe discharged the bullet," Mendoza said. "We also believe we have the spent shell casing from the bullet that was fired from the gun. We regard this specific spent casing and recovered projectile to be the live round that was fired from the revolver by Mr. Baldwin."
Mendoza said investigators have interviewed the two people who "handled and or inspected the loaded firearm prior to Baldwin firing the weapon." He identified them as the film armorer Hannah Guitierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls.
A new search warrant affidavit obtained on Wednesday by ABC News includes a statement from Guitierrez-Reed in which she purportedly told investigators that on the day of the shooting she checked the rounds of "dummies" and ensured they were not "hot" rounds.
Guitierrez-Reed also told detectives, according to the affidavit that when the crew broke for lunch that day, the firearms were secured in a "prop truck" on the set. She said ammunition was left on a cart at the set and not secured, according to the affidavit.
Halls purportedly told investigators that Guitierrez-Reed showed him the gun in question before rehearsal, the affidavit states. An earlier search warrant released in the case alleged that Halls handed the weapon to Baldwin and said "cold gun," to let the crew know that a firearm supposedly with no live rounds was being handled
"He could only remember seeing three rounds," according to the affidavit. "He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn't, and couldn't recall if she (Guitierrez-Reed) spun the drum."
Souza told investigators that when Baldwin fired the weapon he vaguely remembers Hutchins complaining about her stomach and grabbing her midsection, according to the affidavit.
"Joel also said Halyna began to stumble backwards and she was assisted to the ground," according to the affidavit. "Joel explained that he was bleeding from his shoulder and he could see blood on Halyna."
Mendoza said investigators have collected what they believe to be additional live rounds from the set.
He said the evidence will be analyzed by the FBI at the bureau's crime lab in Quantico, Virginia.
"I want to ensure the victims, their families and the public that we are conducting a thorough and objective investigation," Mendoza said. "In reference to possible charges, it's too early right now in the investigation to comment on charges at this point."
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said no decision has been made on whether charges will be filed and that she will wait until the investigation is complete.
"I must emphasize that a complete and thorough investigation is critical to DA review. We take the corroborated facts and evidence and connect it to New Mexico law and we are not at that juncture yet," Carmack-Altwies said. "I am a prosecutor that was elected in part because I do not make rash decisions and I do not rush to judgment."
Ask by a reporter whether Baldwin could face criminal charges, Carmack-Altwies said, "All options are on the table at this point."
"I'm not commenting on charges whether they will be filed or not on whom," she said. "We cannot answer that question yet until we complete a more thorough investigation. No one has been ruled out at this point."
Mendoza said there were about 100 people on the movie set at the time, but only about 16 were in the vicinity of the shooting.
He also said investigators were looking into statements and rumors that crew members were allegedly taking target practice on the set and that there had been reports of drinking on the set.
"We are aware of those statements and we are investigating whether or not that is true or isn’t true," Mendoza said. "I would encourage anybody that has any information that any target practicing or any firearm was discharged away from the movie set or for practice or for whatever reason to contact the sheriff’s office."