‘Rust’ Assistant Director Accused Of Having History Of On-Set Safety Issues

The assistant director who allegedly handed actor Alec Baldwin a loaded firearm on the set of the movie “Rust” last week had allowed unsafe working conditions related to firearms on at least one previous set, a prop maker has alleged.

Dave Halls did not hold safety meetings and consistently failed to announce the presence of a firearm on set as part of protocol while working on Hulu’s “Into the Dark” series in 2019, prop maker and pyrotechnical Maggie Goll, who worked with Halls on the set, told CNN and NBC News.

“There is absolutely no reason that gun safety should be ignored on set, even when it is a non-firing prop firearm,” Goll told NBC. “The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon’s presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day.”

A sign points to the direction of the Bonanza Creek Ranch where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot while filming the movie “Rust.”

Sam Wasson via Getty Images

Golls told CNN that the prop master frequently scolded Halls for his behavior, including for dismissing on-set talent before they returned props, including weapons.

“He did not maintain a safe working environment,” she told NBC. “Sets were almost always allowed to become increasingly claustrophobic, no established fire lanes, exits blocked … safety meetings were nonexistent.”

Another crew member (who reportedly requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation) corroborated Goll’s accounts to CNN.

Halls said in a search warrant affidavit that he did not know that the gun was loaded when he handed it to Baldwin in New Mexico. Halls took the gun off of a cart, handed it to the actor, and yelled “cold gun,” a term used to indicate that the weapon did not carry live rounds, according to court records obtained by The Associated Press.

Alec Baldwin is seen outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Thursday after he was questioned about the shooting.
Alec Baldwin is seen outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday after he was questioned about the shooting.

Baldwin fired the gun, according to the court documents, fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, who had been standing behind her.

Attempts to reach Halls for comment on Sunday were not immediately successful.

Thursday’s shooting reportedly wasn’t the first time that live rounds of ammunition had been accidentally fired on the set of “Rust.”

Five days before the shooting, Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired two live rounds after being told that the weapon didn’t have any ammunition in it, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday, citing two crew members.

“We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe,” a crew member told a unit production manager in a text message that was reviewed by the L.A. Times.

The New York Times, citing three former crew members, also reported that there had been at least two earlier accidental gun discharges on the set.

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