The Santa Fe County Sheriff says “concerning” information has been found on text messages during the investigation into the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Sheriff Adan Mendoza said the messages discussed the possible use of live ammunition on a different film set a few months prior to the start of production on the Rust film.
The department recently released all files relating to its ongoing investigation into the tragic incident, including video footage of Alec Baldwin practising with a revolver, and the actor’s interviews with officers afterwards.
Speaking to NBC’s Today show, Sheriff Mendoza said: “There was complacency on the set, there was disorganisation and a degree of negligence, whether that rises to a criminal level that’ll be up to the district attorney.
Asked about how the live rounds had come to be used he continued: “That was one of the key things we were looking into but as of right now no one has come forward and admitted to bringing the live rounds onto the movie set.
“There was information on text messages that was concerning based on the fact that live ammo was spoken about and possibly used on a prior movie set.
“That was just a few months ago before the Rust movie production began so that is concerning.”
Sheriff Mendoza said that it was “too early to rule anything out” at this stage of the investigation, adding: “I don’t think anybody’s off the hook when it comes to criminal charges.”
The police investigation comes after a report into the incident found the film’s production company “knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set” and “demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety”.
Rust Movie Productions was fined 136,793 US dollars (€128,473), the maximum allowable by state law in New Mexico, following a six-month investigation by the state’s environment department.
Baldwin continues to fight a number of lawsuits stemming from the incident.
Cases are being brought by script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, head of lighting Serge Svetnoy and Hutchins’ family.