Oct 27, 2021
Alec Baldwin Fatal Shooting on Rust Film Set: New Mexico Officials Press Conference Transcript
New Mexico officials held a press conference on October 27, 2021 to provide updates on the fatal shooting involving actor Alec Baldwin that took place on the Rust film set. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Adan Mendoza: (00:10)
Good morning, everybody. And welcome to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. I’m Sheriff at Adan Mendoza. First and foremost.
Speaker 2: (00:16)
He said he can’t hear you.
Adan Mendoza: (00:17)
First and foremost, I’d like to offer our condolences to the Hutchins family, a speedy recovery to Mr. Souza and our concern for the safety of all the men and women in the film industry. On Thursday, October 21st, 2001 at 1:48 PM we were dispatched to Bonanza Creek Ranch in reference to a 911 call advising that two people had been shot on a movie set. The first deputy arrived at 2:00 PM and EMS arrived at 2:01 PM. It was later determined that Helena Hutchins the director of cinematography, and Joel Souza, the director, had been shot while rehearsing a scene on the movie Rust. During the initial investigation, it was determined that actor-producer, Alec Baldwin, was the person that fired the weapon. We identified two other people that handled and/or inspected the loaded firearm prior to Baldwin firing the weapon.
Adan Mendoza: (01:25)
These two individuals are armorer Hannah Reed Guttier and assistant director David Halls. All three individuals have been cooperative in the investigation and have provided statements. Over the last few days our investigative team has been working diligently to conduct interviews, execute search warrants, and collect and process evidence from the scene. During this process, we determined that there were a limited amount of movie set staff present in the area where the actual incident took place although there were approximately a hundred people on set. Through the execution of search warrants we have collected about 600 items of evidence. These include, but are not limited to, three firearms, approximately 500 rounds of ammunition, and several pieces of clothing and accessories. 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. We also believe that we have the spent shell casing from the bullet that was fired from the gun.
Adan Mendoza: (02:45)
The actual lead projectile that was fired has been recovered from the shoulder of Mr. Souza. The projectile was recovered by medical personnel, where he was being treated, and turned over to the Sheriff’s office as evidence. We regard this specific spent casing and recovered projectile to be the live round that was fired from the revolver by Mr. Baldwin. We have recovered what we believe to be possible additional live rounds on set. All the previous mention items, along with other items of evidence, will be submitted to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia for analysis. We are working thoroughly to gather all the facts of the investigation, continue interviews and further analyze and process the evidence. I want to insure the victims, their families, and the public that we are conducting a thorough and objective investigation.
Adan Mendoza: (03:56)
In reference to possible charges it’s too early right now in the investigation to comment on charges at this point. The investigation will continue and if the sheriff office determines during our investigation a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed. Otherwise, we will complete our investigation and forward the full investigation and evidence to the district attorney for review. Before turning it over to the district attorney, I’d like to thank our investigations division for all their hard work and diligence in this case, the Santa Fe County Public Safety Department EMS and RECC, and the local FBI office for their support and assistance in this case, also the district attorney’s office staff that has been working side by side with us during this case. I’d like to introduce First Judicial District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies.
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (05:04)
Good morning. My name is Mary Carmack-Altwies and I am the First Judicial District Attorney. Thank you. My jurisdiction includes Santa Fe County. I echo the sentiments of Sheriff Mendoza and want to send my condolences to the family, friends, and tight knit film community impacted by this tragedy. We mourn the loss of Helena Hutchins and the injury to Joel Souza. I also specifically want to thank the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department for so thoroughly and actively investigating this incident. Our office appreciates your hard work and together we will ensure that this investigation is held to the highest standards.
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (05:45)
I speak to the prosecutorial perspective here and 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. If the facts and evidence and law support charges, then I will initiate prosecution at that time. I am a prosecutor that was elected in part because I do not make rash decisions and I do not rush to judgment. I rely on facts supported by evidence, cooperative and credible witnesses, and I cannot stress the importance of allowing the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office to continue with their quality investigation that is both serious and complex. So at this point we will open it up to questions.
Speaker 4: (06:37)
What kind of bullet was found?
Speaker 5: (06:37)
Sheriff, Sheriff can we ask you? So you said that a live round was recovered. Based on the witness interviews that you’ve done, can you tell us what you’ve learned about how live ammunition was on the set and how it made its way into that firearm? We learned that there was possible target practice maybe earlier that day? What have you learned on that front?
Adan Mendoza: (06:55)
So what I think what we’ve learned is we suspect that there was other live rounds that were found on the set. I won’t comment further on how they got there. That’s still part of … this investigation is active, so I won’t comment on how they got there, but we know, we suspect that they are there. That will be determined when testing is done by the crime lab in reference to whether or not they are officially live rounds or not sure.
Speaker 6: (07:19)
Sheriff, how did two people inspect this gun and not notice there was a live round in it?
Adan Mendoza: (07:26)
That’s what we’re trying to determine. The people that inspected or handled the firearm when it was loaded before it got to Mr. Baldwin, we’re interviewing and there’s some follow up questions that we need to do. So there’s further investigation, further interviews and we’re going to try and determine exactly how that happened and if they should have known that there was a live round in that firearm.
Speaker 6: (07:52)
[inaudible 00:07:52] did you say 500 rounds?
Adan Mendoza: (07:57)
No, I said there was a total of 500 rounds of ammunition. That is a mix of blanks, dummy rounds, and what we are suspecting live rounds.
Speaker 7: (08:08)
What type of bullet was found in the director’s shoulder that was recovered at the hospital?
Adan Mendoza: (08:12)
Well, we know it was a lead projectile. It’s still to be determined by the ballistic analysis, by the FBI crime lab, exactly what the weight of that bullet is. Maybe whether or not it was fired from that actual firearm. There’ll be the riflings and things will be tested and compared. So there’s a lot of testing that needs to be done to ensure that that projectile left that firearm. And so that’s what we suspect.
Speaker 8: (08:39)
Sheriff, as the man who pulled the trigger and is a producer on the movie, does Alec Baldwin himself face the potential of criminal charges? And if the DA could perhaps follow up with that, as well?
Adan Mendoza: (08:50)
That may be a question better answered by the district attorney.
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (08:56)
All options are on the table at this point. I’m not commenting on charges, whether they will be filed or not, or on whom. So the answer is we cannot answer that question yet until we complete a more thorough investigation.
Speaker 8: (09:09)
But there is the potential for Alec Baldwin himself to face charges because you have not ruled him out?
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (09:13)
No one has been ruled out at this point.
Speaker 9: (09:17)
Is Alec Baldwin considered a person of interest right now?
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (09:24)
No, that’s you.
Adan Mendoza: (09:26)
He’s obviously the person that fired the weapon so we’re going to continue interviewing and getting the facts of his statements and the evidence and the case and possible witnesses or anybody that has any information. So right now he is an active part of this investigation.
Speaker 9: (09:41)
Is he likely to be re-interviewed? Is he likely to be re-interviewed?
Adan Mendoza: (09:48)
We hope so. As of right now, everybody is cooperating with statements and interviews. Sure.
Speaker 10: (09:54)
What can you tell us about the gun?
Speaker 11: (09:57)
Can you tell us what the next step is? You mentioned this is an ongoing investigation, but specifically for your department, what does that mean specifically? What else do you have to do?
Adan Mendoza: (10:04)
So basically there are a lot of interviews that have to be done. Okay? We’ve determined that there were a limited amount of people or movie staff that were actually in the vicinity of the incident. There also was approximately 90 people on the movie set itself. So there’s a lot of interviews that need to be done still in this case and that’s going to be important. There’s a lot of facts that are floating around. I wouldn’t say facts. There’s maybe facts and rumors that are floating around and it’s our job to figure out if they are facts or rumors.
Speaker 12: (10:39)
[inaudible 00:10:39] actual bullet that was fired, not a plane, not a dummy. It was like what people think of when you say bullet?
Adan Mendoza: (10:45)
So we would consider it a live round, a bullet live, because it did fire from the weapon and obviously caused the death of Mrs. Hutchin and injured Mr. Souza.
Speaker 14: (10:57)
Were live rounds found on other guns on set?
Speaker 15: (10:59)
How much will you take into account the previous accusation of unsafe practices and negligence on other sets? We know you will for this set, but there are reports coming out from Hannah and David on negligence and unsafe practices on other sets. How much will you take that into account?
Adan Mendoza: (11:16)
Well, that’s up to the district attorney to determine how much that’s going to weigh, but we are going to follow up on some of those statements that are made that there were other incidents. We definitely want to speak to anybody that has any information in reference to safety issues on further sets or whether there were other issues. And we would encourage them to call the Sheriff’s office at 505-986-2490 with any information they may have so we can get a good idea of what the totality of the circumstances are on this set and what’s happening in the industry.
Speaker 16: (11:48)
Can you follow up on that? [crosstalk 00:11:51] … other movie productions?
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (11:53)
And that is something that will play into our legal analysis when we get the completed investigation from the Sheriff’s department. It obviously could play into whether charges get filed or not.
Speaker 17: (12:04)
DA could you speak broadly about negligence and the things … I know you said it’s too early to comment on charges, but can you speak broadly to what your office is examining when it comes to an accidental shooting versus weighing negligence? Like what your office specifically looks at when we get to that point?
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (12:22)
When we get to that point, yes, I will speak to it. I don’t know that we are at that point yet, because again, we can’t say that it was negligence, by whom. How many people were involved. We can’t say that with any certainty at this point. So when we get to that point, yes, I will speak to that.
Speaker 18: (12:38)
Can you talk about the gun?
Speaker 19: (12:38)
District Attorney, you’re obviously … Sheriff, you’re obviously-
Speaker 20: (12:55)
Can you talk about [inaudible 00:12:55] target practice earlier in the day, [inaudible 00:13:02]
Adan Mendoza: (13:03)
I will talk in reference to the caliber of the actual weapon that was fired by Mr. Baldwin. That firearm was an F Lee Pietta Long Colt 45 revolver.
Speaker 21: (13:21)
Were there other rounds of ammunition in the gun you believe that was fired?
Adan Mendoza: (13:21)
There were other … there was other ammunition in the gun that we believe was fired by Mr. Baldwin.
Speaker 22: (13:26)
Were those live rounds? Were there any other guns that you recovered. I think that’s an important point. Any other live bullets in any of the other guns, including the one you recovered from Alec Baldwin?
Adan Mendoza: (13:37)
As of right now, there were three firearms that were located on the set within close proximity to the incident. We’re still going to determine. We’ll send the firearm that was fired by Mr. Baldwin to the crime lab and do a functionality test. Obviously it did fire a live round. The other weapon is a single action Army 45 revolver. That one looks like there’s some modification to the cylinder. It may not be functioning, but that’ll be determined by the crime lab. The other firearm is a plastic, nonfunctioning revolver.
Speaker 23: (14:14)
Thank you. Can you talk about tensions on the set. Reports, people, obviously a crew had walked out and six hours before the accident and people drinking or crew members drinking the night before. Lax conditions. Can you talk about that? And specifically, was there tension on the set?
Adan Mendoza: (14:34)
I won’t talk about specifics, but we are aware of those rumors or those statements that have been made and we’re going to do the best to track those down.
Speaker 24: (14:44)
Sheriff, can you confirm whether a camera was rolling when the shot was fired?
Adan Mendoza: (14:50)
There was a search warrant that was issued in reference to any camera footage. There was camera footage, but I can say that there was no footage of the actual incident.
Speaker 25: (14:59)
Sheriff, for clarity-
Speaker 26: (15:00)
How much is Mr. Alex Baldwin’s role as a producer factor into the investigation? How much responsibility do you think he actually had as a producer? [inaudible 00:15:13]
Adan Mendoza: (15:14)
I think once we gather all the statements of fact, once we do all the interviews, then that will be weighed by the district attorney to see exactly what weight that’s going to give in reference to her decision to making charges.
Speaker 27: (15:27)
… locations other than the movie set being pursued or executed?
Adan Mendoza: (15:31)
Not at this time.
Speaker 28: (15:32)
Sheriff, can you please give update on Alec Baldwin in particular from law enforcement to how he’s been so far?
Adan Mendoza: (15:40)
Just generally he has been cooperative in this investigation.
Speaker 29: (15:44)
Can you describe his demeanor?
Speaker 28: (15:46)
Adan Mendoza: (15:47)
I won’t comment on my perception of his demeanor.
Speaker 28: (15:50)
Have you asked him not to talk to press? Can you for clarity.
Adan Mendoza: (15:50)
I won’t comment on that.
Speaker 28: (15:54)
For clarity, was it a live round or a suspected live round?
Adan Mendoza: (16:00)
I’ll say right now until it’s proven by the crime lab, it’s a suspected live round that was fired, but it did fire from the weapon and it did cause injuries so that would lead us to believe that it would was a live round.
Speaker 30: (16:15)
[crosstalk 00:16:15] … safety here on movie sets here. Sheriff, you’re obviously responsible for safety in this county. Just curious about your thoughts about the use of real weapons on the sets of movies.
Adan Mendoza: (16:26)
Well, obviously I think the industry has had a record recently of being safe. 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. But I’ll leave that up to the industry and the state to determine what those need to be.
Speaker 31: (16:46)
Have you ever covered a case or is there precedence for a case like this in Santa Fe County where you have somebody fired a gun, did it clearly accidental, like you thought it was a cold gun, but other people loaded that gun where it’s kind of not the person who actually fired it that could be held liable? Is there any kind of precedent for a case like this in your county?
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (17:06)
No. No. There’s no precedent whatsoever.
Speaker 31: (17:07)
[crosstalk 00:17:07] to your investigation. I mean, this is very, it’s a tricky, legal balance.
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (17:12)
It is a very complex case. It will require lots of legal research and analysis and review. That’s what my team is here for. And that’s how we’re assisting the sheriffs at this point. That said, again, we don’t know how that’s going to play in until we get that complete investigation.
Speaker 32: (17:32)
Sheriff was the projectile taken from the director’s shoulder, removed from the director’s shoulder, is that the same projectile that killed Helena Hutchinson?
Adan Mendoza: (17:41)
We will leave that up to the Office of Medical Investigator to determine, but it’s apparently the same round.
Speaker 33: (17:49)
Gong back to the question about whether there was target practice on set. Are you investigating whether people were recreationally shooting on the ranch property, aside from filming?
Adan Mendoza: (18:00)
We are aware of those statements and we are investigating whether or not that is true or it isn’t true. And 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.
Speaker 34: (18:18)
Is there any reason why live rounds would be on the set?
Speaker 35: (18:20)
What do you think happened here?
Adan Mendoza: (18:23)
Speaker 35: (18:23)
You said two of the three guns appeared to be nonfunctioning on that table. What do you think unfolded that afternoon.
Adan Mendoza: (18:31)
Well, I think the facts are clear. A weapon was handed to Mr. Baldwin. The weapon is functional and fired a live round killing Ms. Hutchins and injuring Mr. Souza.
Speaker 36: (18:42)
In the latest search warrant that was just released through the magistrate office, it notes that Hannah Gutierrez-Redd and Joelle and the AD that handed the gun all said live rounds should never be on set, yet there clearly were live rounds on set. So this feels almost like a false statement to police. If the armorer is going to say that there should never be a live round on set, yet there was, what’s your next step as a law enforcement investigator?
Adan Mendoza: (19:07)
We know there was one live round, as far as we’re concerned, on set. We’re going to determine whether we suspect that there were other live rounds, but that’s up to the testing, but right now we’re going to determine how those got there, why they were there because they shouldn’t have been there.
Speaker 37: (19:23)
Sheriff, can you speak on the timeline of your investigation?
Speaker 38: (19:28)
Adan Mendoza: (19:28)
I’m sorry. Who were you asking about?
Speaker 38: (19:29)
Alec Baldwin. Has he left New Mexico or is he still here to interview him?
Adan Mendoza: (19:35)
He’s been cooperative. I’m not exactly sure of his present whereabouts.
Speaker 39: (19:39)
Can you talk about the path of the gun that was fired and how it wound [inaudible 00:19:43], what you know about the chain of custody before it was picked up by the assistant director?
Adan Mendoza: (19:49)
Yeah, I won’t talk about the specifics of that. That’s still being investigated.
Speaker 37: (19:58)
Can you speak on the timeline of your investigation and when you anticipate that this may wrap up and we’ll get more information about whether charges may be filed?
Adan Mendoza: (20:03)
Yeah, I don’t, I’ll stay away from an actual timeline. I know, based on what I said, there’s several individuals that need to be interviewed. And from those interviews comes new information that we need to track down. So I don’t want to put a timeline on it. I want everybody to know that we’re working diligently. Our investigative team is to wrap this up thoroughly and completely. And so there is no timeline. We want to get all the facts, get all the statements and present that to the district attorney’s office for review.
Speaker 40: (20:33)
Can you confirm that you interviewed the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and the assistant director, Dave Halls?
Adan Mendoza: (20:38)
Speaker 41: (20:40)
Do you expect to re-interview either of those two?
Adan Mendoza: (20:45)
As questions come up, other information comes to light, there may be follow up interviews. So I would suspect that we would want to re-interview them.
Speaker 42: (20:55)
Sheriff, Sheriff, you said there was a small number of people inside the area where this happened. How come it’s taking so long, almost a week now, to get all of those interviews done?
Adan Mendoza: (21:03)
Well, there was a small number of people within the set area where the incident took place. Those people have been interviewed. I’m talking about a hundred people on scene in different areas. So those people that were in close proximity to the incident they’ve been interviewed.
Speaker 42: (21:21)
And just for clarity, inside the revolver that Alec Baldwin used, were there other live rounds inside the chamber?
Adan Mendoza: (21:27)
Not that we’re aware of.
Speaker 43: (21:31)
[inaudible 00:21:31] that chamber?
Speaker 44: (21:32)
The sheriff used the word complacency on set? What is the bridge and how much do you have to go beyond complacency to get to criminal negligence? Hypothetically speaking?
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (21:43)
I’m not going to answer hypotheticals today. I will say there is a bridge and it will take many more facts, corroborated facts, before we can get to that criminal negligent standard. And again, they’re gathering that as we speak.
Speaker 44: (21:58)
Complacency in and of itself does not amount to criminal behavior?
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (22:02)
I can’t say that without specifically legally researching that, but my off the cuff answer is no.
Speaker 44: (22:09)
And for the sheriff, your experience with firearm, sheriff. What is your view of such complacency on the set of a movie?
Adan Mendoza: (22:17)
Anytime firearms are involved, safety is paramount. I’ll say that. Anybody knows that. If you know anything about firearms, anytime a firearm is around or about safety is paramount.
Speaker 44: (22:30)
Does it anger you that live rounds were being used on that set?
Adan Mendoza: (22:35)
I don’t let my emotions get involved. This is an investigation. We rely on the facts. Thank you.
Speaker 45: (22:40)
How many people were actually in that room? You said a small number of people. What is a small number?
Adan Mendoza: (22:46)
The information that I received from the detectives, there were 16 people in the vicinity of where the incident took place. Thank you for all your questions. I really appreciate it, but I think that’s all the questions we’re taking today, unless the DA would like to entertain anymore.
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (23:00)
No. We’re good.
Adan Mendoza: (23:02)
Mary Carmack-Altwies: (23:02)