Alec Baldwin and wife Hilaria dine at the Vermont bar, which is closed to the public as the ‘Rust’ probe picks up speed

EXCLUSIVE: Alec and Hilaria Baldwin stepped out for drinks at a bar in Vermont Friday night as an investigation into a deadly shooting involving the A-list star is underway in New Mexico.

Baldwin had an IPA and Hilaria ordered wine. The couple shared a kiss after a long day out with the kids. And they dug into the plate after the plate.

Earlier that evening, a hostess at the front door said the bar area was closed. And the bartender turned down patrons all night.

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Baldwin’s New England respite comes while “Rust” film production – of which he is a part – is under investigation in New Mexico. A firearms accident on the set left film photographer Halyna Hutchins dead, and a bullet landed on director Joel Souza’s shoulder.

It happened after a crew member allegedly gave Baldwin a loaded .45 revolver during the exercise and told him it was a “cold gun” or safe.

At least four people handled the gun on October 21 – Baldwin, Panzer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, Assistant Director David Halls and Props Master Sarah Zachary show court documents. Authorities have focused on the first three, all of whom are collaborating with investigators, according to the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department.

Halls had told Baldwin that the .45 revolver was a “cold gun,” meaning “not hot” or unloaded, after armorman Hannah Gutierrez Reed placed it on a cart on the set, according to investigators. But when the actor fired that gun while rehearsing on a stage, it fired a projectile right through Hutchins and into Souza.

“A .45 Long Colt, it’s … very, very dangerous, enormous penetrating force,” said David Katz, a former senior specialist agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration and founder and CEO of Global Security Group, a private investigation and security firm. .

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The incident could lead to serious criminal charges, but more likely for the experts handling weapons on set than for Baldwin, according to Katz.

An attorney for Halls did not respond to a request for comment, while Gutierrez Reed through his attorneys on Thursday appeared to be trying to shift the blame to the film’s producers for alleged unsafe conditions on the set.

Katz said that under normal circumstances, conscious layers of redundancy – control, re-control and multiple controls – prevent such tragedies. And when you approach firearms carefully, they are easy to avoid.

(WikiMedia Commons / Western Stage Props)

Blanks do not look like a bullet packing a projectile, he noted.

“There’s not even a question – the subject does not want a projectile,” he said. “That part of the cartridge, the bullet is not going to be here. The cartridge will either shrink or there will be some kind of cotton wool or plastic cap because the powder still needs to be enclosed.”

And careful control minimizes the risk of something slipping through. Katz made a simple plan to follow: Check for live rounds at the perimeter. Check back inside. Check while inserting each empty cartridge into the gun. Make sure the barrel is ready. Then keep the weapon sealed and secure until it’s time to use it – when it will be checked again.

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Authorities said they found a mixture of blanks, dummy rounds and actual bullets while investigating the set.

Once they are in the gun, it can be more complicated to control the rounds, and Katz said it is impractical to expect actors to learn to check their weapons for each film. That should fall on the armored men and other experts, he said.

“Give me an hour and I’ll tell you how to hold a gun and look professional,” he said. “You may not really shoot, but you will be able to look professional when you hold that gun – but I would not trust you to check it and verify status. Not unless you are trained a little better. “

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That said, he credited the actors who coach – and praised Keanu Reeves for his work in the “John Wick” series and Daniel Day-Lewis in “The Last of the Mohicans.”

Filmmakers could also avoid the problem completely by making sure they use weapons that have been modified in a way that only enables them to fire special sizes, Katz said. But it costs a lot of extra money because it makes functional weapons essentially useless for anything other than film production.

“When you do, you take a $ 500, $ 1,000 pistol or $ 2,000, $ 3,000 rifle and you destroy it,” he said. “The only use now is theatrical.”

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Some companies are already doing that, he said. Others are willing to do so as long as they are compensated in the budget. And those who do not have industry safety standards to go by.

“There are protocols in place and it’s pretty much done securely,” Katz said. “But all that is needed is one: one human error, one screwed up.”

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