The assistant director of the movie that Alec Baldwin was making when he fatally shot a cinematographer was fired from a previous job in 2019 after a gun went off on a set and slightly wounded a member of the film crew, a producer said Monday.
The disclosure emerged as producers of Baldwin’s movie officially halted filming, and court records showed that investigators seized more than two dozen items from the set on the day after the shooting.
In an email statement to The Associated Press, a producer for the movie Freedom’s Path confirmed that Dave Halls was fired from the 2019 production after a crew member suffered a minor injury “when a gun was unexpectedly discharged.” The producer, who asked not to be identified by name, wrote that Halls “was removed from the set immediately.” Production did not resume until Halls was gone.
His firing from Freedom’s Path was first reported by CNN. Halls has not returned phone calls and email messages seeking comment.
The producer is the second person to air doubts about Halls’ safety record. On Sunday, another crew member who worked with Halls said she raised concerns about him in 2019.
Maggie Goll, a prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician, said in a statement that she filed an internal complaint with the executive producers of Hulu’s Into the Dark series over Halls’ behaviour. Goll said in a phone interview that Halls disregarded safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics and tried to continue filming after the supervising pyrotechnician, who was diabetic, lost consciousness on set.
The fatal shooting and previous experiences point to larger safety issues, Goll said, adding that crew safety was a top issue in recent contract negotiations between a union that represents film and TV workers and a major producers’ group.
“This situation is not about Dave Halls … It’s in no way one person’s fault,” she said. “It’s a bigger conversation about safety on set and what we are trying to achieve with that culture.”
In an email sent to Rust crew members over the weekend, the movie’s production team confirmed that work on the Western has been suspended at least until the investigation is complete. The team said it is working with law enforcement and conducting its own internal safety review. The production company is also offering grief counselling.
The email suggested that work on the film could resume at some point.
“Although our hearts are broken, and it is hard to see beyond the horizon, this is, at the moment, a pause rather than an end,” the email read.
The sheriff’s investigation continued Monday, and new court documents showed that authorities seized three black revolvers, ammunition boxes, a fanny pack with ammunition, several spent casings, two leather gun belts with holsters, articles of clothing and swabs of what were believed to be blood.
No charges have been filed. Prosecutors and law enforcement officers were expected to provide an update on the investigation Wednesday.
Moments before the shooting, Baldwin was explaining how he was going to draw the revolver from his holster and where his arm would be positioned, court records show.
The actor had been told that the gun was safe to use for the rehearsal of a scene in which he was supposed to pull out the weapon while sitting in a church pew and point it at the camera, the records said.
Cameraman Reid Russell told a detective that he was unsure whether the weapon was checked before it was handed to Baldwin, and he did not know why the gun was fired.
The camera was not rolling when the gun went off and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Russell told authorities, according a search warrant affidavit released Sunday.
Authorities have said that Halls had handed the weapon to Baldwin and announced “cold gun,” indicating it was safe.
When asked about how Baldwin treated firearms on the set, Russell said the actor was safe, citing a previous instance when Baldwin made sure a child actor was not near him when a gun was being discharged.
Baldwin, who is known for his roles in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October and his impression of former U.S. president Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, has described the killing as a “tragic accident.”