ALL NEWS

New Mexico fines ‘Rust’ for willful gun safety failures

Apr 20, 2022, 11:49 AM | Updated: 11:51 am
FILE - Alec Baldwin performs emcees the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at...
FILE - Alec Baldwin performs emcees the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at New York Hilton Midtown on Dec. 9, 2021, in New York. On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, New Mexico workplace safety regulators issued the maximum possible fine against a film production company for firearms safety failures on the set of “Rust” where a cinematographer was fatally shot in October 2021 by actor and producer Alec Baldwin. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico workplace safety regulators issued a maximum possible fine of nearly $137,000 on Wednesday. The fine was against a film production company and is related to firearms safety failures on the set of “Rust.” A cinematographer was fatally shot on the set by actor and producer Alec Baldwin.

Utah angle: Fatal mistake on movie set was live ammo, says Utah gun expert

New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau said Rust Movie Productions must pay $136,793, and distributed a scathing narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on set prior to the fatal shooting. The bureau also documented gun safety complaints from crew members that went unheeded and said weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.

“What we had, based on our investigators’ findings, was a set of obvious hazards to employees regarding the use of firearms and management’s failure to act upon those obvious hazards,” Bob Genoway, bureau chief for occupational safety, told The Associated Press.



At a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021, Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins inside a small church during setup for the filming of a scene when it went off, killing Hutchins and wounding the director, Joel Souza.

Baldwin said in a December interview with ABC News that he was pointing the gun at Hutchins at her instruction on the New Mexico set of the Western film when it went off without his pulling the trigger.

The new occupational safety report confirms that a large-caliber revolver was handed to Baldwin by an assistant director, David Halls, without consulting with on-set weapons specialists during or after the gun was loaded. Regulators note that Halls also served as safety coordinator and that he was present and witnessed two accidental discharges of rifles on set, and that he and other managers who knew of the misfires took no investigative, corrective or disciplinary action. Crew members expressed surprise and discomfort.

“The Safety Coordinator was present on set and took no direct action to address safety concerns,” the report states. “Management was provided with multiple opportunities to take corrective actions and chose not to do so. As a result of these failures, Director Joel Souza and cinematographer Halyna Hutchins were severely injured. Halyna Hutchins succumbed to her injuries.”

A spokesman for Rust Movie Productions did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. An attorney for Baldwin was not immediately available.

James Kenney, secretary of the Environment Department that oversees occupational safety, said the agency dedicated 1,500 staff hours to its investigation, examined hundreds of documents and conducted at least a dozen interviews with cast and crew members.

Investigators found production managers placed tight limits on resources for a small team that controlled weapons on set and failed to address concerns about a shotgun left unattended twice.

Armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the daughter of a sharpshooter and consultant to film productions, was limited to eight paid days as an armorer to oversee weapons and training, and was assigned otherwise to lighter duties as a props assistant. As her time as an armorer ran out, Gutierrez Reed warned a manager and was rebuffed.

Safety investigators also note that the production company did not develop a process to ensure live rounds of ammunition were not brought on set, in violation of industry safety protocols. Safety meetings were conducted, but not every day weapons were used, as required.

Kenney said the separate investigations into possible criminal charges are still underway.

He said his agency received no direct safety complaints from cast or crew prior to the fatal shooting, even though anonymity is offered.

“This tragedy, this loss of life, it could have been prevented, and we want people to say something,” he said.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a staunch advocate for the film industry, appointed Kenney in 2019. Grisham increased a state cap in industry incentives shortly after taking office.

New Mexico competes with non-Hollywood production sites in states such as Georgia, Louisiana and New York. Film productions have flocked to New Mexico in recent years to seize on its diverse outdoor scenery, moderate costs and generous state incentives, including a rebate of between 25% and 35% of in-state spending for video production that helps filmmakers large and small underwrite their work.
___
This version corrects the state workplace safety fine to $136,793 instead of $139,793.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

the salt lake city skyline is pictured, utahns can take a survey about the increasing utah populati...
Chris Jacobs

New survey asks how the state should handle Utah’s population increases

The goal is to gather feedback as Utah's population grows and then the responses and ideas to create a plan for handling that growth.
6 hours ago
The Duchesne County Sheriff's Office says a suspect is in stable condition following an officer-inv...
Mark Jones

Suspect hospitalized after officer-involved shooting in Duchesne County

A suspect is in stable condition following an officer-involved shooting Monday night in Duchesne County.
1 day ago
A woman wishing not to be identified shows her sadness after the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake ran ou...
Waverly Golden

Expert joins Inside Sources on women accessing homeless resources

Emily Darowski, Associate Director for the Utah Women and Leadership Project, discusses a recent study the project conducted on women accessing homeless resources in Utah.
1 day ago
Sundance women film...
Heather Kelly

Sundance Film Festival is seeking volunteers for 2023 event

The Sundance Film Festival is seeking volunteers to help with its 2023 event in January. The festival will have events planned for Salt Lake City, Park City and the Sundance Resort.
1 day ago
The Utah Department of Public Safety issued an apology to the family of a woman who was allegedly r...
Mark Jones

Northbound I-15 in Juab County closed for a time Wednesday night

The Utah Highway Patrol says northbound I-15 in Juab County has been closed between exits 222 and 228 due to crashes in relation to winter weather.
1 day ago
KSL NewsRadio's Dave & Dujanovic discuss how to deal with and overcome seasonal depression....
Mark Jones

How to deal with and overcome seasonal depression

KSL NewsRadio's Dave & Dujanovic discuss how to deal with and overcome seasonal depression.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
New Mexico fines ‘Rust’ for willful gun safety failures