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Rust Investigations Are One Big Step Closer To Answers

It's been nearly a year since the devasting death of Halyna Hutchins. While working on the set of "Rust," actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed the 42-year-old cinematographer in October 2021. The investigation into the incident remains active at this time, but the end is apparently very near — with officials reporting a major development in the case this week. 

Since last fall, investigators with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office and the FBI have been working meticulously to determine the exact cause of the shooting. They are also working to determine if anyone will be held legally responsible for it. Reporting as of late last year even indicated that the prosecutor overseeing the investigation was still considering criminal charges.

Hutchins was struck by a bullet that Baldwin fired from his prop gun, despite it being allegedly checked for live rounds and cleared through on-set safety protocols. The "30 Rock" star was facing the camera and practicing a cross-draw maneuver — when someone draws a firearm that's holstered on the opposite side — right as the gun went off, according to a police affidavit released to the public

According to reports, the production of "Rust" was marred by a number of safety issues and disputes between crew members (via NBC News). Investigators have been conducting ballistics analysis and sifting through evidence in an attempt to conclude whether someone should be held criminally responsible. And it appears they've finally reached the finish line.

The FBI has completed its ballistics analysis

According to Variety, FBI officials have completed the ballistics analysis in the investigation into the "Rust" shooting. Next, the agency will send the results to the authorities in New Mexico, who can now move ahead with forwarding the case to local prosecutors for possible charges. The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator has already wrapped up its probe and was able to file an official coroner's report on Wednesday, August 10, after receiving the ballistics data, officials said. According to investigators, at least seven other "suspected" live rounds were discovered on the "Rust" set, in addition to the one that killed Halyna Hutchins. 

As of this publication, investigators are still waiting to obtain Alec Baldwin's phone records from that day — and the ones leading up to it — after the actor turned over the cell phone to Suffolk County Police Department in New York, per Variety. He had initially refused to give up his phone data, but was later forced to do so after getting slapped with a warrant by law enforcement (via Deadline). Suffolk County authorities have reportedly been scouring Baldwin's cellular device in search of "relevant information" that may pertain to the "Rust" criminal case and Hutchins' death. 

Baldwin and two others — assistant director David Halls and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed — have been at the center of the investigation. Baldwin's legal team has insisted that he is innocent of any wrongdoing. "There are no answers on his phone," his attorney, Aaron Dyer, told Deadline in January 2022. "Alec did nothing wrong. It is clear that he was told it was a cold gun, and was following instructions when this tragic accident occurred. The real question that needs to be answered is how live rounds got on the set in the first place."