Prop Gun Specialist Calls Alec Baldwin 'Very Safe,' Says Props Dept. Likely to Blame

A prop gun specialist who has worked with Alec Baldwin in the past told the BBC Friday that he was "shocked" to learn the actor was involved in the tragic movie set accident that killed one person and injured another.

"Mr. Baldwin, when I worked with him, was very professional, very safe. I was shocked it was him...I was like, 'How can this be?'" said professional armorer Mike Tristano during a BBC interview.

Alec Baldwin Talks SNL
A prop gun specialist spoke with the BBC about the on-set accident with Alec Baldwin that resulted in the death of a cinematographer. In this photo, Baldwin is pictured attending the 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights' Ripple Of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown on December 12, 2018, in New York City. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, Baldwin reportedly fired a prop gun on the New Mexico movie set of the Western film Rust that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured the film's writer/director, Joel Souza, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office.

To prevent such tragic accidents, movie studios hire armorers like Tristano. Armorers specialize in on-set firearm safety coordination, and they are almost always nearby when productions film scenes that involve guns being fired. Tristano is a state and federally licensed weapons expert and one of the best-known armorers in the business with more than 500 film and television credits to his name.

Talking with BBC host Rachel Burden, Tristano said he believed someone other than Baldwin is likely at fault for Thursday's incident.

"There has to be circumstances here that we don't know about yet, but whoever the armorer or person handling the guns, and handed that gun to Mr. Baldwin, that's his or her responsibility to check that gun, make sure the rounds are the proper blank rounds and set up the shot to make sure whoever is firing is safe," Tristano said.

"That's their responsibility, not Mr. Baldwin's; he's an actor," he added.

In the wake of Thursday's horrific mishap, many people have recalled the death of actor Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who was killed on the set of The Crow in 1993. Lee was accidentally killed by a prop gun that was believed to be loaded with blanks.

In a 2017 interview with Cracked, Tristano discussed Lee's death. He said there had been "a very experienced armorer on the set" of The Crow, but he claimed that person "wasn't called in that day because they didn't want to pay him that day."

With the details that are currently available about what occurred on the set of Rust, Tristano told the BBC that an incident like the one involving Baldwin "is unheard of."

"I'm at a loss how this could have happened and how it could have done that much damage," he said.