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Investigators offer new insight into the fatal shooting on the 'Rust' movie set

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Investigators in New Mexico are offering new insights into the fatal shooting last October of a cinematographer on the set of the Western movie "Rust." The Santa Fe Sheriff's Office has now released dozens of photos, texts, videos and documents. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has more.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: The stockpile of evidence includes witness statements and video from deputies responding to the shooting on the "Rust" set.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED DEPUTY: Thirty-two Santa Fe. One female shot in the chest, male shot in the stomach. Request an air flight.

DEL BARCO: There are clips of actor Alec Baldwin rehearsing a scene inside a small church at Bonanza Ranch. Wearing a cowboy hat, he pulls a gun from his coat and points toward the camera. It was during a rehearsal that the gun went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. There's video of the medics attending to them before helicopter ambulances arrived.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MEDIC: Deep breath - deep breath, Halyna.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Inaudible) - the gun shot off (ph).

DEL BARCO: Other videos recorded hours later show Baldwin talking to investigators.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALEC BALDWIN: It should have been a cold gun with no rounds inside or dummy rounds - cosmetic rounds, no flash. I take the gun out slowly. I try to cock the pistol. Bang. It goes off. She hits the ground. She goes down. He goes down screaming.

DEL BARCO: Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza says the evidence was released after a public records request. But he says investigators are still waiting for forensic and ballistics reports from the FBI crime lab. Mendoza told "The Today Show" they're still looking into who's ultimately responsible.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TODAY SHOW")

ADAN MENDOZA: I think there is - was complacency on the set. There was disorganization and a degree of negligence.

DEL BARCO: At issue is how live rounds of ammunition ended up in the gun Baldwin used on the set of "Rust." The newly released evidence includes text messages from crew members about how some guns had been discharged on set before the shooting.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TODAY SHOW")

MENDOZA: Right now no one's come forward and admitted to bringing the live rounds onto the movie set.

DEL BARCO: New Mexico safety regulators documented complaints from crew members. And last week, they fined the "Rust" production team nearly $137,000 for safety violations. Hutchins' husband has filed a wrongful death suit against Baldwin. The actor, who's also one of the film's producers, says he pointed the gun but didn't pull the trigger and didn't know it had live rounds.

On "The Today Show," Sheriff Mendoza was asked whether Baldwin could still face criminal charges.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TODAY SHOW")

MENDOZA: It's too early to rule anything out right now. But I don't think anybody's off the hook when it comes to criminal charges.

DEL BARCO: Mendoza said that would be up to the district attorney's office.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.