Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said on TODAY Thursday that the assistant director, the armorer and actor Alec Baldwin are the focus of the investigation into the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of "Rust" from a prop gun fired by Baldwin last week.
"Nobody’s been cleared as of yet," Mendoza told Savannah Guthrie. "Again, there’s three people that handled the firearm prior to the death of Miss Hutchins, so those people will be interviewed, are the focus of the investigation, and so nobody’s been cleared as of yet.”
The gun was put in Baldwin’s hand by assistant director Dave Halls, who said it came from armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, according to a search warrant affidavit. Gutierrez-Reed told investigators that “no live ammo is ever kept on set,” raising the question of who brought live bullets onto a movie set, where they are strictly prohibited.
"I can say this, those two individuals are obviously the focus of the investigation," Mendoza said, speaking about Halls and Gutierrez-Reed.
Mendoza announced at a press conference Wednesday that the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office has determined the fatal shot fired by Baldwin on the set was a live bullet. The round traveled through Hutchins' body and lodged in the shoulder of director Joel Souza.
"I think during the interviews and the focus of the investigation is how the live rounds got there, who brought them there, why they were there," Mendoza told Savannah.
Baldwin was handed a Pietta Long Colt revolver he was told was safe to use before he squeezed the trigger, Mendoza said Wednesday. He added that investigators believe they have the firearm in their possession as well as the spent shell casing from the deadly bullet.
Gutierrez-Reed showed Halls the firearm but Halls "could only remember seeing three rounds." He told detectives he should have checked all of them, but couldn't recall if Gutierrez-Reed spun the drum of the gun, according to an affidavit signed by a detective.
First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies says she has not ruled out potential criminal charges. Even if there was no criminal intent, there could still be charges if there is evidence of "willful disregard" for the safety of others.
"We just can’t say that at this point because the investigation is not complete," she told Miguel Almaguer on TODAY Thursday. "We know mistakes happened. We’re not exactly sure who did, when they did, how they did it."
Investigators questioned 16 cast and crew members who were inside the church set where Hutchins was killed. Among the 600 items of evidence recovered were three guns, 500 rounds of ammunition and what are believed to be live rounds.
Mendoza told Almaguer that investigators were not aware of any other live rounds being inside the chamber of the revolver Baldwin used.
Authorities said they are also investigating reports that "Rust" staffers may have been taking live target practice when not filming.
CORRECTION (October 28, 2021 at 3:35 p.m.): An earlier version of this story misspelled Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza's name. It is Adan, not Adam.