What forensic testing reveals about gun, Alec Baldwin's claims involving 'Rust' shooting

The report is part of a criminal investigation into the deadly shooting.

ByMeredith Deliso, Jenna Harrison, Nicholas Kerr, Alyssa Pone, Vera Drymon and Doug Lantz via ABCNews logo
Monday, August 15, 2022
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The gun used in the fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set could not have been fired without pulling the trigger, according to an FBI forensic report obtained Friday by ABC News.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The gun used in the fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set could not have been fired without pulling the trigger, according to an FBI forensic report obtained Friday by ABC News.

Actor Alec Baldwin shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western, which he was producing and starring in, last year. The actor believed he was handling a "cold gun" -- one without live ammunition -- when it went off and a live bullet struck Hutchins, killing her. The film's director, Joel Souza, was also wounded in the shooting.

In addition to the FBI forensic analysis, a separate report was made public Monday from New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator. That office determined the shooting was an accident, following the completion of an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports.

That does not necessarily mean no charges will be filed in connection with the case. Prosecutors have yet to make their charging decision, saying they will review the latest reports and were awaiting cell phone data from Baldwin's attorneys.

In a statement, Luke Nikas, an attorney for Baldwin, said: "The critical report is the one from the medical examiner, who concluded that this was a tragic accident. This is the third time the New Mexico authorities have found that Alec Baldwin had no authority or knowledge of the allegedly unsafe conditions on the set, that he was told by the person in charge of safety on the set that the gun was 'cold,' and believed the gun was safe."

"The FBI report is being misconstrued," the statement continued. "The gun fired in testing only one time -- without having to pull the trigger -- when the hammer was pulled back and the gun broke in two different places. The FBI was unable to fire the gun in any prior test, even when pulling the trigger, because it was in such poor condition."

The FBI report shows accidental discharge testing determined that the firearm used in the shooting -- a .45 Colt (.45 Long Colt) caliber F.lli Pietta single-action revolver -- could not have fired without the trigger being pulled.

With the hammer in the quarter- and half-cock positions, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger," the FBI report stated.

ANALYSIS: 'Rust' investigators receive FBI forensic reports

With the hammer fully cocked, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional," the report stated.

With the hammer de-cocked on a loaded chamber, the gun was able to detonate a primer "without a pull of the trigger when the hammer was struck directly," which is normal for this type of revolver, the report stated.

In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos in December, Baldwin said he didn't pull the trigger on the gun.

"The trigger wasn't pulled," he said. "I didn't pull the trigger."

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The attorney for Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was in charge of all the weapons on the "Rust" set, said the FBI's report contradicted Baldwin's claim that he didn't pull the gun's trigger.

"These new filings demonstrate various production members' attempts from the very beginning to shirk responsibility and scapegoat Hannah, a 24-year-old armorer, for this tragedy," attorney Jason Bowles said in a statement to ABC News. "Hannah was tasked with doing two jobs including props assistant and the very important job as armorer but not given adequate time and training days to do so despite repeated requests or the respect required of the armorer's position and responsibilities."

The forensic report is part of a criminal investigation into the on-set shooting. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, which is leading the homicide investigation, received the report and other FBI documents related to the shooting earlier this month, the sheriff's office said Thursday.

The documents have been reviewed by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, which has classified Hutchins' death as an accident, a postmortem report obtained by ABC News shows.

"Death was caused by a gunshot wound of the chest. Review of available law enforcement reports showed no compelling demonstration that the firearm was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on set," the report stated. "Based on all available information, including the absence of obvious intent to cause harm or death, the manner of death is best classified as accident."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.