Two search warrants are disclosed in the Alec Baldwin movie set shooting case

The added part of the affidavit in the second search warrant raises its own questions. Writer-director Joel Souza and the camera man said the incident happened after lunch. Souza said that they “had to be shuttled to an area away from the set” to eat. Both Souza and Russel said that no film, video, or audio was being recorded because the scene was being prepared and set up. A camera crew of six had previously walked out because of “issues with production involving payment and housing”. Another camera crew was hired but had only one camera. Souza said the rehearsal “entailed Actor Alec Baldwin cross drawing his weapon and pointing the revolver towards the camera lens”.

Souza further said the firearms are “checked” by Hannah, and then are “checked” by the assistant director Dave Halls, who “then gives it to the Actor using the firearm”. And that: “The only thing checked are the firearms to avoid live ammunition being in them”.

In a kind of odd statement, Souza “advised they returned back to the set after lunch, although he is not sure if the firearm was checked again”. This implies that the gun was checked earlier. The camera man said that he had “stepped out for about 5 minutes after returning from lunch”. When he returned to the set, “Alec, Joel, and Halayna were already in possession of the firearm and had been preparing for the scene”, and he was “not sure that the firearm had been checked due to his absence of the five minutes”. The first part of the affidavit noted that the guns were on a cart outside the building. The camera man (Russel) further said that once Halyna was “on the ground, medics [plural] began to treat her injury as she was bleeding while on the floor ….”

Russel claimed that Baldwin had been “very careful”, and in an earlier scene had “made sure it was safe” and that a child was not nearby “when they were discharging a firearm during that scene”.

The gun is not described in the affidavits. A spent shell casing (singular) is mentioned, although Souza said “he was looking over the shoulder of Halayna, when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop”. The first part of the affidavit claims that: “Affiant later learned, the Assistant Director (Dave Halls) did not know live rounds [plural] were in the prop-gun, when he had given to [sic] the prop gun to the Actor Alec Baldwin”.

The affidavits indicate that only one shot was fired and it caused all the wounds, but that is not completely clear. One shot certainly could pass through Halyna and hit Souza in the shoulder. The affidavits do not say how far Baldwin was from the camera.

My father’s old but very functional shotgun in the photo at the top is an old single shot and has stamped on the side the words, “Victor Ejector” and “American Gun Co New York”. You use your thumb to cock the hammer back. You cannot cock the gun and pull the somewhat stiff trigger by accident.

Traditionally, an affidavit supporting a search warrant contains only enough information to justify issuing the warrant and does not include extensive detail. The standard requirement is similar around the country. In Texas, the wording is: “No search warrant shall issue for any purpose in this state unless sufficient facts are first presented to satisfy the issuing magistrate that probable cause does in fact exist for its issuance. A sworn affidavit setting forth substantial facts establishing probable cause shall be filed in every instance in which a search warrant is requested”.

Whether the affidavits are legally sufficient to show probable cause is an issue about which I will not express an opinion.

A woman is dead from trauma by a gunshot. It is obviously essential that the investigatory process, reports, and official documents be coherent.

You can read the search warrants by displaying or downloading them. In the past a document that was uploaded could not be displayed after a short time. But these do at least right now.

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10 Responses to Two search warrants are disclosed in the Alec Baldwin movie set shooting case

  1. RZ says:

    I feel sorry for almost all concerned, the DOP who died, her husband and child, the young and inexperienced woman out of her depth with the job of armourer, the AD, know doubt hired for his drive to get shit done on a limited budget. Who does that leave, a money grubbing asshat who hired them on the cheap to increase his wealth and reputation but I guess he has enough friends and money to escape the consequences. And so it goes.

  2. Pat Lang says:

    “Souza further said the firearms are “checked” by Hannah, and then are “checked” by the assistant director Dave Halls, who “then gives it to the Actor using the firearm”. And that: “The only thing checked are the firearms to avoid live ammunition being in them”.” Somebody is lying.

    • TTG says:

      Souza described how it is supposed to work. It obviously didn’t work that way this time, unless there was real malevolence involved.

      • Rob Waddell says:

        Tragic as this case is, I wouldn’t call it malevolence just yet.
        I would say its a combination of incompetence, laziness, non-compliance right through to greed and stupidity.

        To keep things in perspective, 175 workers were killed in the USA between January and June in 2021. That’s just the number where OSHA citations were issued i.e. fault attributed to procedures etc. Not much wailing for those poor souls, many who would have friends, families and children.

        Now revolver experts; re the damned handgun used in this fatality. If a single cartridge is in the firing position (12 o’clock) of the chamber, would this be invisible to the viewer on cursory inspection? To do a proper check would not the chamber need to be rotated otherwise the revolver would appear to be empty.
        I know that sounds very simplistic but.. incompetence, laziness etc..

        • Pat Lang says:

          rob Waddell

          With most revolvers you would put the pistol on half cock and the rotate the cylinder while looking at the muzzle end of the cylinder. If there is a bullet in one or more chambers it will be visible. Do not point the muzzle at yourself while doing this. C’mon man.

  3. Barbara Ann says:

    As “prop gun” = “firearm”, at least in this case, I still don’t see how the guy that pulled the trigger can avoid culpability – regardless of the chain of f’ups. People who handle guns must abide by the safety rules Larry set out in his recent post. Actors are people. If Baldwin had followed the rules no one would be dead. You don’t just take someone’s word for it that a gun is “cold”, point it at someone and pull the trigger.

  4. Fred says:

    The first search warrant states they left the firearms on a cart “due to Covid restrictions”. Who was attending the cart with the weapons the whole time, if anybody, remains to be seen.

  5. cofer says:

    Strange, in all the reporting I’ve seen so far, none stressed the fact that normally firearms used in production, those that are rented from a prop house or the armour’s own stock, are modified and incapable of shooting live ammunition. The barrel of these weapons have a plug inserted in it with a small opening for the gases to escape. These are still very dangerous and the crew must follow many safety rules. A producer can save a few pennies by renting an unmodified gun but the risk is too high.
    It is customary to rent a toy gun for use in rehearsals and for the purpose of lining a shot. The assistant director will hand the functioning gun to the actor only when the camera is ready to roll and all personnel are secure.
    Labour dispute, angry crew and angry union, I have a sleeping suspicion that this might have been a sabotage.

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