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‘Rust’ shooting: Dave Halls who gave Alec Baldwin live gun has history of complaints

The Assistant Director accused of 'string of gun safety gaffes' on prior production was accused of getting 'touchy' with the crew
UPDATED OCT 25, 2021
Assistant Director Dave Halls ]on the set of 'Rust' (Twitter)
Assistant Director Dave Halls ]on the set of 'Rust' (Twitter)

The tragic accident that killed Halyna Hutchins isn't the first time 'Rust' Assistant Director Dave Halls has been in trouble. According to a new report, the AD has a history of firearm-related gaffes, as well as other complaints to his name. He is reportedly known for getting "touchy" with crew members, as recounted by pyrotechnician Maggie Goll, who worked with Halls on a previous production.

On October 21, Alec Baldwin accidentally fired a prop gun killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. The incident sparked off a major investigation as filming shut, revealing some truly shocking details. Shortly before the incident, it appears the union crew were dismissed in favor of non-union members, due to their complaints about safety on set. 


Who is Dave Halls? AD on 'Rust' set handed live gun to Alec Baldwin, said it's safe

Who is Hannah Gutierrez? Armorer who brought live gun on set of 'Rust' identified

The incident has now been traced back to two key players - armorer Hannah Gutierrez who brought the live gun to the set and Halls who handed the gun to Baldwin. Reportedly, Halls was unaware the gun was loaded and called "cold gun", i.e. indicated it was safe to use. It's unclear who exactly is to blame for the accident, but we now have some disturbing details about Halls, indicating he may bear some of the responsibility.

Image: Halyna Hutchins/Instagram

Halls never addressed weapons safety, says colleague

Hollywood traditionally has extremely stringent safety protocols for firearms. Live ammunition is almost never used, and cast and crew members often go through rigorous protocols and meetings to address safety on set. However, that didn't seem to be a practice for Halls. In a statement to CNN, Goll said Halls never held weapons safety meetings and "consistently failed to announce the presence of a firearm on set." 

"The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon's presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day," Goll said. She added, "The Prop Master frequently admonished Dave for dismissing the talent without returning props, weapon included, or failing to make safety announcements." Adding to the damning allegations, Goll also recounted an incident when a pyrotechnician had a medical emergency on set but was asked to continue the shoot by Halls.

A view of the 'Rust' set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico. (Twitter)

 Goll worked with Halls on the production of Hulu's 'Into the Dark' in 2019. Her allegations were confirmed by another anonymous crew member, who added that his safety meetings, when held were "short and dismissive." He also reportedly questioned why they needed to be held in the first place. Adding to this, he's also being accused of sexual misconduct. Reportedly, one crew member told Goll to "watch out for Dave" because he got too physically familiar with the crew, despite rebuffs and complaints.

"Nothing too extreme, but crew members of all genders and dispositions were being made uncomfortable by Dave's touches to their backs, waists, shoulders, etc," Goll said. She passed on her complaints to the Directors Guild of America and internally to the Blumhouse Productions executive producers, but nothing ever came of it. Halls has not responded to Goll's allegations. 

Another damning report by TMZ said that the gun Baldwin was holding was used recreationally by the crew. Reportedly, it was used for target practice with real bullets. When police investigated the 'Rust' set, they found the live ammunition was being stored in the same area as the blanks, which might explain how a live round found its way onto the set that day. That hasn't stopped Halls from getting all the blame though. 

One crew member told The Daily Beast, "He's supposed to be our last line of defense and he failed us." But, as court documents and insiders reveal, the accident appears to be a result of "failings from top to bottom" in the production, including that of the inexperienced Gutierrez.