Santa Fe officials issue search warrant for Alec Baldwin’s iPhone in ‘Rust’ shooting inquiry
Santa Fe, N.M., law enforcement obtained a search warrant Thursday for the contents of Alec Baldwin’s iPhone in connection with its investigation of the fatal shooting on the set of the low-budget western movie “Rust.”
The eight-page affidavit for the warrant, submitted by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and approved by a local judge Thursday afternoon, will allow investigators to seize Baldwin’s phone and download information related to “Rust” and the production’s employees.
That could include Baldwin’s text messages, emails, contacts, browser history, private messages on social media, as well as his recent call list, the affidavit said. Investigators also requested digital images, deleted digital images, passwords and any global positioning system (GPS) data from the phone.
The warrant is the fifth to be issued in the sheriff’s office examination of the Oct. 21 shooting at Bonanza Creek Ranch, south of Santa Fe, that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. Hutchins’ death has rattled the entertainment industry and become a rallying cry for safer conditions on movie and TV sets.
Officials have been scrutinizing the actions of Baldwin — an actor and producer who fired the prop gun — as well as assistant director David Halls, who was in charge of safety on the set, and the production’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed.
Interviews with multiple members of the “Rust” crew paint an hour- by-hour picture of a cascade of bad decisions that created a chaotic set on which a lead bullet was put into a prop gun.
Halls and Gutierrez Reed have already voluntarily turned over their cellphones to sheriff’s detectives, according to their respective attorneys.
“Mr. Halls voluntarily surrendered his telephone to law enforcement,” Lisa Torraco, Halls’ Albuquerque-based attorney, told The Times in an email message Thursday. “He has nothing to hide, and he believed a voluntary surrender would streamline the investigation. ...He has tried to cooperate every step of the way.”
Separately, Jason Bowles, who represents Gutierrez Reed, said his client “turned over her phone to the sheriff’s office. She continues to fully cooperate with the authorities.”
In the affidavit for the search warrant, Det. Alexandria Hancock wrote that she had “requested Alec’s phone from him, as well as his attorney, and was instructed to acquire a warrant.”
Hancock wrote that there were “several emails and text messages sent and received” regarding the production that she wishes to inspect.
According to the affidavit, Baldwin told investigators that he had exchanged emails with Gutierrez Reed discussing the different styles of guns and knives that could be used on set. Gutierrez Reed showed Baldwin different styles of guns. He told investigators that he requested a bigger gun and ultimately selected a Colt .45 prop gun with a brown handle.
Investigators have inspected Hutchins’ phone. Conversations about “Rust” that were available on Hutchins’ phone dated back to mid-July, and photographs dated back to Sept. 7, the affidavit said.
How an armorer and a prop master with scant experience wound up in the middle of the Alec Baldwin “Rust” tragedy.
In a Dec. 2 interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin said he thinks it is “highly unlikely” that he would be criminally charged in the shooting.
On Thursday, a Baldwin representative didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
In the ABC interview, Baldwin said he feels grief over Hutchins’ death but does not feel responsible for what happened.
“Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property,” Baldwin said. “Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”
Thursday’s affidavit also included more details about Gutierrez Reed’s handling of the gun. The 24-year-old gun wrangler, who was working on only her second film as head armorer, said she had loaded Baldwin’s gun before lunch — a couple of hours before the fatal shooting. She told investigators that she was allowed limited access onto the set, an old wooden church, because of COVID-19 pandemic protocols.
Gutierrez Reed said she “handed the gun off to Dave [Halls] ... after lunch.”
During a rehearsal after lunch, Baldwin said Halls handed him a revolver. Baldwin recalled Halls telling him, “This is a cold gun” — industry jargon for a weapon that is either empty or loaded with nonfiring dummy rounds.
After the incident, Gutierrez Reed told the investigators that she checked the ammunition and that “the box of dummies may have some ‘wonky’ rounds.” She told investigators that she had received a box of ammunition about a week earlier from weapons provider Seth Kenney.
Kenney has told The Times that, while he provided guns, blanks and dummies, he did not provide any live ammunition to the “Rust” production.
Any information taken from Baldwin’s phone that isn’t relevant to the investigation would be sealed and not subject to further review, according to the warrant.
Staff writer Meg James contributed to this report.
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