Authorities are pursuing new leads on possible sources of live ammunition involved in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of a western movie, as they searched the premises of an Albuquerque-based firearms and ammunition supplier.
A revolver fired by actor Alec Baldwin during the production of the film Rust on 21 October contained a live round, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
The actor didn’t realise a firearm was loaded with live rounds when he fired the shot that killed her.
On Tuesday, authorities investigating the sources of the live ammunition searched the premises of an Albuquerque-based firearms and ammunition supplier.
Seth Kenney and his business PDQ Arm & Prop provided movie-prop ammunition and weapons to the production, according to a search-warrant affidavit.
According to PA, Mr Kenney could not be reached independently for comment. A sheriff’s office spokesman declined to elaborate on details in the search warrant.
Investigators initially found 500 rounds of ammunition at the movie set on the outskirts of Santa Fe – a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what appeared to be live rounds.
Industry experts have said live rounds should never be on set.
Investigators have described “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the Rust set.
They have said it is too soon to determine whether charges will be filed amid independent civil lawsuits concerning liability in the fatal shooting.
Tuesday’s search-warrant affidavit contains some new details about the handling and loading of the gun that killed Ms Hutchins before it was handed to Baldwin by an assistant director.
In the document, investigators say that the armorer on the film, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, loaded the gun with five dummy rounds on 21 October but struggled to add a sixth round before a lunch break, when the revolver was locked in a truck.
The final round was added after lunch when the gun was cleaned, it says.
Another movie crew member – the prop master for Rust – told investigators that ammunition was purchased from at least three sources for the production.
Investigators also described conversations with Ms Gutierrez Reed’s father – sharpshooter and movie consultant Thell Reed, who isn’t listed as a participant on Rust.
Jason Bowles, a lawyer for Ms Gutierrez Reed, called the search for evidence in Albuquerque a huge step forward toward determining the source of ammunition on the Rust set.
He said in a statement: “The Sheriff’s Office has taken a huge step forward today to unearth the full truth of who put the live rounds on the Rust set, by executing a search warrant on PDQ Arm & Prop, owned by Armorer-Mentor, Seth Kenney.
“We trust that the FBI will now compare and analyse the ‘live rounds’ seized from the set to evidence seized in the search warrant to conclusively determine where the live rounds came from. In keeping with the early findings and concerns of our own internal investigation, which were echoed by a detailed report in the LA Times, we also hope that there will be further investigation into the important detail about a new ammunition box seen on set the day of the shooting.
“The questions of who introduced the live rounds onto the set and why are the central questions in the case. Today’s warrant is a major step towards answering those questions and we commend the Sheriff’s Office and their lead investigator on their continuing tireless work to find the truth.”