The deadly live round fired by Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust” may have been left in the firearm from a previous film production, according to a search warrant approved by a judge Tuesday.
New Mexico investigators revealed the developments in the case as they sought permission to search PDQ Arm & Prop, LLC — an ammunition store in an Albuquerque strip mall that supplied the ill-fated Western with props, according to documents shared with The Post by Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.
The warrant also said the weapon could have been supplied by a man identified only as “Billy Ray.”
Criminal charges in the case have not been ruled out, after Baldwin killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, and injured director Joel Souza, 48 with a gun that was supposed to have contained blanks on the afternoon of Oct. 21.
On Oct. 27, investigators searched the prop truck after learning there was “additional ammunition collected of which some are suspect live ammunition,” the warrant said. The truck was unlocked by PDQ Arm & Prop’s Seth Kenney, sheriff’s wrote.
Kenney told cops the ammo included “dummy rounds and blanks” from manufacturer Starline Brass, which only sells bullet components, not live rounds, according to the warrant. However the deadly round was emblazoned with the Starline Brass logo, and Kenney later told cops that could have been because “he received ‘reloaded ammunition’ from a friend” — real ammo made from the harmless components, police said.
Kenney’s apparent penchant for live rounds was confirmed by Thell Reed, father of “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the document said. Reed told police he worked on a different film with Kenney as an advisor over the summer.
“Seth requested he bring live ammunition in the event they ran out of what was supplied,” Reed told investigators, adding he brought a can of ammo with 200-300 live rounds.
“He said he still had the can with the .45 caliber colt ammunition in it, and after several attempts to get it back from Seth, Seth advised Thell to ‘write it off,’” investigators wrote. “Thell stated this ammunition might match the ammunition found on the set of Rust.”
Gutierrez-Reed told investigators she and prop master Sarah Zachry put five dummy rounds in the long barrel Colt .45 before lunch on the day of the disaster, but one round would not go in, so she cleaned “it” out and put another round in after lunch. She said “she didn’t really check it too much” before putting the final round in because the gun had been locked during lunch, according to the warrant.
After the fatal shooting, Zachry told investigators she went back to the prop cart to compare the suspected live round with other ammo being stored on set, the document said.
“Sarah said when she was comparing to other cartridges in the box, she found some of the cartridges would rattle, which signified them being “dummy rounds,’ however, others did not rattle,” investigators wrote. “Sarah said this lead (sic) her to believe some of the other rounds in that box were live ammo.”
The prop master told investigators that the live ammo could have come from multiple places however, including from a man mysteriously identified only by his two first names.
“Sarah advised the ammunition for Rust was provided from various sources, to include Seth Kenney, some Hannah brought from a previous production, and extra rounds from an individual identified as ‘Billy Ray,’” sheriff’s wrote.
A judge granted investigators permission to search the strip mall store for ammo with the “Starline Brass” logo, boxes and gun cleaning equipment, work contracts related to the production and surveillance footage related to the probe.
Baldwin, who was also a producer on the film and is the subject of multiple lawsuits related to the disaster, hired a former assistant US attorney to represent him, according to a report last week.