Israeli weapons experts on Baldwin set shooting: ‘Possible sabotage, very surprising’

Fauda’s weapons expert said he believed Baldwin may be the victim of a conspiracy, not professional negligence.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Basic safety rules on the set of the Alec Baldwin film Rust were not followed by the cast and crew, and the lack of adherence to the guidelines goes beyond simple carelessness to borderline criminal negligence, two Israeli weapons experts say.

And although Baldwin called the event a “one in a trillion” freak accident, some say that the miniscule chances of such an occurrence happening point to more nefarious causes beyond professional irresponsibility.

Yair Merton, the driving force behind the firearms training for the Israeli thriller Fauda, said that he found the Baldwin incident puzzling and disturbing.

“When I heard about this, knowing what I know, not just from Israel but about how the world [entertainment] industry works, my gut feeling is that it’s a conspiracy, that someone planted the [gun with live bullets] in order to do damage. It’s just insane,” Merton told Ynet.

“So many things happened here…you only bring cold weapons and not live weapons [to set], you assign someone whose job it is to supervise the weapons and make sure they’re never tampered with, you insert a prosthesis into the gun which blocks a bullet from being fired, should there be a live bullet in the gun for some reason…

“You check the gun 20,000 times before the actor arrives on set and picks up the gun, and you check again…check after check after check…and there is an ironclad rule that no matter [what], you never aim the weapon at anyone.”

Merton called for an independent investigation into the incident, saying that he believed it may have been an act of sabotage and that someone could have intentionally given Baldwin a gun with live bullets, knowing that it would result in a deadly accident.

Aaron Cohen, who served in the IDF’s elite Duvdevan counterterrorism unit and now provides firearm training for A-list actors including Keanu Reeves and Michael Fassbender, said that he was baffled by the mistakes made on set which led to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins being fatally shot by Baldwin.

“When I work with actors, I go over safety issues with them for an hour,” Cohen told Yediot Aharonot. “I explain to them how to check the gun, how to make sure there are no bullets in the barrel, warn them not to aim the gun at anyone.”

“Even after the actor gets the weapon in his hands, he must not aim the gun at anyone. If the scene requires directing the gun towards the camera, then the photographer and the director and everyone who is there should move away from the range of fire.

Cohen said he was “very surprised” by the errors made on set, as the “safety standard in operating weapons in filming movies is very high” and live bullets are forbidden from being brought to the set.

“Rumor has it that people on the production team of Rust brought live bullets in violation of the ban and went out to the range in the area for fun,” he added.

“It is possible that this is how a live bullet made its way into the gun and whoever was supposed to check it did not do so, and that is total negligence.”