The crew member who handed Alec Baldwin the loaded gun that killed a cinematographer on the set of "Rust" has expressed his shock and sadness at the incident.

In his first public comments since the death of Halyna Hutchins last month, David Halls - the first assistant director on the set when she was accidentally shot - described her as a friend and one of the most talented people he had worked with.

He made the comments to the New York Post.

Mr Halls' role in the accident on the set of a 19th-century Western in New Mexico has been under scrutiny after he told police he had failed to fully check the firearm before the fatal incident.

In a statement to the newspaper, he did not however directly address the shooting or his role.

He wrote: "It's my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to re-evaluate its values and practices to ensure no-one is harmed through the creative process again."

Along with armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, Halls as first assistance director was responsible for handling and checking weapons on set, and announcing "cold gun" - industry lingo for an inert firearm.

According to a search warrant, he told detectives he "should have checked" that all the rounds in the Colt .45 gun were dummy, or inert, rounds, "but didn't".

A live round fired by Mr Baldwin during rehearsal passed through Ms Hutchins' body and struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder.

She later died of her injuries.

Nearly 100,000 people have since signed a petition to permanently remove firearms from sets, noting that effects such as the loud bang and muzzle flash can easily be added to fake rubber guns in post-production.

In his statement, Mr Halls also said he had been "overwhelmed by the love and support," and wrote, "My thoughts are with all who knew and loved Halyna."

His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The statement came two days after Mr Baldwin's own first public comments on the incident, in which he told reporters that the tragedy was a "one in a trillion episode".

The 63 year-old actor said he had been advised not to speak directly about the shooting due to the ongoing police investigation.

Prosecutors have refused to rule out criminal charges over the deadly shooting.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said live rounds "shouldn't have been" present, and said it appeared "there was some complacency on this set".