Alec Baldwin Explains How Gun Went Off Without Pulling Trigger ... If I Felt Responsible, I May Have Killed Myself

I AIMED AS DIRECTED
ABC News

Alec Baldwin says he never pulled the trigger on the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and followed her instructions to point the gun at her, not knowing there was live ammunition in the chamber.

Baldwin says he pointed the gun at her as directed ... cocked it and let go of the hammer and that's when the gun went off. He says he never touched the trigger. Assistant Director Dave Halls backed Baldwin up and says Baldwin never had his finger on the trigger.

Baldwin says the only issue for him is how live ammunition got into the chamber of the gun. He says he was told it was an "empty gun" -- meaning only dummy bullets.

When the gun fired and Halyna fell to the ground, Baldwin says he didn't know for 45 minutes to an hour she was hit by a live round. He thought maybe Halyna got hit by wadding typically found in blanks.

Baldwin felt people waited too long to get her to a hospital. A helicopter finally came and took her to a hospital.

The Sheriff eventually told Baldwin Halyna had died. The photos of Baldwin outside on the phone are when he called his wife to tell her what happened.

Baldwin says George Clooney didn't help the situation by commenting that he always checked a gun that he handled on set. Baldwin was clearly annoyed at Clooney. He says he's always relied on the experts -- like the armorer -- on the set that a gun was safe to handle.

Baldwin does not believe the live ammo on the set was an act of sabotage ... something claimed by the lawyer for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. He says this was an accident.

Baldwin says he hates that Reed and Halls have been villainized unfairly, he believes.

He also doesn't discount his brother Daniel -- who told TMZ he believed Baldwin was targeted for his political beliefs. He mentions Donald Trump, who went after Baldwin.

Baldwin said he was not a nuts-and-bolts producer who made hiring decisions ... rather, he says he was a "creative producer" -- meaning his role was more about content. This is significant ... given the allegations, Reed was way too inexperienced to be an armorer and Halls had safety issues on previous sets.

He says he was never told by the crew they had safety concerns ... he says the complaints were along the lines of grousing they wanted better hotels.

Baldwin says he's having recurring nightmares and is not sure he wants to make movies anymore. He says it's the worst thing that's ever happened to him. He says he feels sadness and anger, but not guilt. He says if he felt he was responsible he might have killed himself.

Senator Ted Cruz WTA Has Bigger Balls Than NBA ... Amid Peng Shuai Drama

Senator Ted Cruz is blasting the NBA -- and heaping praise on the WTA -- for the stark difference in both sports leagues' approaches to human rights violations perpetrated by China.

"I’ll tell ya something right now," Cruz said, "The Women's Tennis Association has bigger balls than the NBA. And I'd like to see courage be contagious and more people stand up."

Cruz made the comments while discussing the vanishing of star tennis player Peng Shuai in an interview with the "Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show" on Thursday ... as top athletes and organizations across the country have demanded proof the star tennis is okay.

"The Women's Tennis Association has shown extraordinary courage, calling out the Chinese communist government. Demanding that Peng Shuai be released and she be free, and they’ve put their money where their mouth is."

Cruz went on to talk about the WTA canceling all events in China ... a move he estimates could cost them "millions or hundreds of millions of dollars."

That's when the senator unloaded on the National Basketball Association.

"The NBA groveled on their knees before the communist dictators. You had people like LeBron James defending the communist dictators who engage in murder and torture and run concentration camps."

Of course, Cruz is referring to the controversy ignited when then-Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted support for protestors in Hong Kong in 2019.

China was furious ... and Cruz believes the NBA caved to the country, prioritizing cash over human rights. Since Morey's comments, James has taken heat for his perceived failure to highlight serious issues in China.

As far as Peng ... she recently accused a powerful Chinese politician of sexually abusing her several years ago. Shortly after making the accusation on social media, the post was removed and Shuai seemingly disappeared.

In recent weeks many have accused China of trying to quell concern ... appearing to trot Peng out in front of cameras to prove she was in no danger.

A statement attributed to Peng was also released ... though many believe the writing to be highly suspicious.

Finally, Cruz said he was grateful for the WTA ... adding he'd like to see more people do the same.

"I'd like to see courage be contagious, and more people stand up."

Jussie Smollett Trial Osundairo Bro Says He's No Homophobe ... I Worked it at Pride Events, Gay Bars!!!

Jussie Smollett's claim one of the Osundairo bros is homophobic -- and that motivated him to pull off the alleged attack -- is getting shot down in court by the brother himself, who brought Pride pics as evidence.

Ola Osundairo -- one of the prosecution's star witnesses, along with his brother Abel -- testified Thursday in Chicago, saying he respects the gay community and had worked as a bouncer in a gay club called Boystown.

He stopped short of dropping the old "I have gay friends" trope but did say he'd been knee-deep in Pride celebrations. The jury was shown a 2015 photo of one such time -- Ola said he was "handing out condoms and flexing" while dressed as a Trojan warrior.

Get it? Condoms? Trojan? Anyway, there are no cameras in court, so we haven't actually seen the pic in question.

As for Abel Osundairo ... he took the stand and got grilled by Smollett's attorney about his alleged sexual relationship with the "Empire" star. Shay Allen asked when they started dating, and Abel replied they never did. He also denied there being any sexual tension between them, and he only thought of Jussie as a friend.

LeBron James Free Of COVID ... Cleared To Play

LeBron James is officially free of COVID -- the NBA announced he's logged multiple negative tests the past two days -- and he's now been cleared to play for the Lakers again.

LBJ had been placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols on Tuesday after he had recorded a positive coronavirus test -- and was forced to miss L.A.'s win over the Kings in Sacramento.

But, the league says the King has been testing negative and is now out of the protocols and will be eligible to play in the Lakers' next game against the Clippers on Friday night.

We broke the story, LeBron initially tested positive for COVID-19 just hours before the Lakers vs. Kings game using a lateral flow test. He then tested negative on a follow-up PCR test. We're told he was given a third, tiebreaker test which came back positive and he was sent home to L.A. from the Lakers' road trip in Northern California.

LeBron seemed to be upset over it all ... writing on his social media page on Wednesday, "Something is REAL [fish emojis] going on."

The NBA -- which has implemented a rule saying players who test positive must either sit out 10 days or submit at least two negative PCR tests before returning to game action -- revealed Thursday it believes LeBron's initial testing was a false positive ... adding, "he is not a positive case."

Story developing ...

Gorilla Glue Girl My Hair is Falling Out In Clumps ... Not Strong Enough For Dye

CAN'T CATCH A BREAK
@im_d_ollady / TikTok

'Gorilla Glue Girl' is having more issues with her hair ... she's losing locks in clumps after using a bunch of chemicals to change her hair color.

Tessica Brown says the problems reared their ugly head after she tried dying her hair brown ... and now she's seeing her hair fall out, and documenting her saga once again for social media.

Tessica's manager, Gina Rodriguez, tells TMZ ... Tessica dyed her hair brown two days ago, and now she might have to shave her head because her hair is like elastic and it comes right out when she uses a comb.

We're told Tessica usually uses wigs for different looks, but this time she wanted to try hair dye because she noticed some gray hairs coming in.

The hair dye was not professionally done ... we're told Tessica used box dye from a local store and she knew something was wrong when she felt a burning sensation, and parts of her scalp are exposed. She is planning on flying to LA to get a stem cell and PRP treatment on her scalp by Jacques Abrahamian at LA FUE Hair Clinic.

2/5/21
A HAIRY SITUATION
@im_d_ollady/Tik Tok

Remember ... Tessica went viral earlier this year after mistakenly substituting Gorilla Glue Spray Adhesive for her normal hair spray ... resulting in weeks of rock hard hair, a trip to the ER, surgical repairs, and even released a song about her experience.

Seems Tessica's hair just isn't strong enough yet for dye after the Gorilla Glue debacle.

Jacqueline Avant Suspect Shot Himself in Foot with AR-15 ... Caught on Video After Attack

APPREHENDING AARIEL
KeyNews.TV/TMX

3:30 PM PT -- Maynor was sentenced to 4 years for second-degree robbery with enhancements for prior felony conviction in November 2018. He was released on parole supervision on Sept. 1, 2021 after serving his full sentence.

The man who allegedly killed Jacqueline Avant was caught in a backyard roughly an hour after shooting the 81-year-old ... and video shows him handcuffed to a wheelchair after being taken into custody.

According to cops, Aariel Maynor traveled from Beverly Hills to the Hollywood Hills after his attack on the Avant home. He attempted to break into another home in the Hills, and in the process somehow shot himself in the foot with an AR-15.

You can see in new video, Maynor was tended to by paramedics, and handcuffed to a wheelchair while he was loaded into an ambulance. Maynor appears to be quite chatty with first responders, though it's unclear exactly what he was saying.

His right foot -- presumably the one he shot -- is bandaged.

TMZ broke the story, Maynor was arrested in connection to Avant's case ... cops say neighborhood surveillance helped them connect him from the crime in Hollywood to the murder at the Avant home.

At a press conference Thursday, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said it was still too early to decide whether or not the attack on the Avant home was random or if Maynor knew the family.

Clarence Avant Suspect Arrested In Wife's Murder

12:48 PM PT -- Police say the suspect is 29-year-old Aariel Maynor, and he was captured partly because he literally shot himself in the foot.

Cops say several surveillance cameras captured Maynor's vehicle fleeing eastbound from Beverly Hills Wednesday morning after Jacqueline was shot. About an hour later, a shooting was reported in the Hollywood Hills, near the Griffith Observatory.

LAPD responded and found Maynor in a backyard suffering from a gunshot wound in his foot -- and determined he'd shot himself while allegedly burglarizing that home. LAPD took him into custody, but Beverly Hills PD says its detectives collected evidence connecting Maynor to the home invasion of the Avant's home.

THE THREAT IS OVER
TMZ.com

BHPD says Maynor is the sole suspect in Jacqueline's death, and he was armed with an AR-15 during the break-in. We've learned he has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2013, and has done time for robbery and grand theft. He also got probation for a domestic violence case.

A suspect has been taken into custody in the shooting death of music legend Clarence Avant's wife, Jacqueline ... TMZ has learned.

Family sources with direct knowledge tell us a man has been arrested in connection to the murder.

TMZ broke the story, 81-year-old Jackie was shot and killed inside the couple's Trousdale Estates home in Beverly Hills Wednesday morning. At the time, we were told at least one suspect made it into the home. A smashed glass door appeared to be the point of entry.

What's more ... a private security guard for the Avant's was on duty, and was shot at, but was not struck and did not return fire. It's not known if the guard was armed.

Clarence was not injured during the attack..

During a press conference Wednesday, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook shared a message from the family, but wouldn't share details on the investigation or who was involved.

Among tributes to Jacqueline was one from former President Bill Clinton, who said, "Jackie Avant was a wonderful woman, a great partner to Clarence and mother to Alex and Nicole, an active citizen & a dear friend to Hillary and me for 30 years. She inspired admiration, respect & affection in everyone who knew her. We are heartbroken. She will be deeply missed."

RECAPPING THE INCIDENT
TMZ.com

Originally Published -- 11:31 AM PT

Antonio Brown Suspended 3 Games ... After NFL Says He Faked COVID Vaccine Card

1:34 PM PT -- Burstyn just released another statement in the wake of the NFL's suspension, saying, "Mr. Brown is vaccinated and continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate."

"The NFL made its determination and, instead of going through the drawn out and distracting process of challenging the outcome, Mr. Brown wrapped this up promptly and he will make this most of this time by treating his ankle injury."

Burstyn continued, "Mr. Brown will be motivated, well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in week 16."

The NFL says Antonio Brown did, in fact, submit a bogus vaccine card to the league ... and officials just announced he's now been suspended three games over it all.

Brown's chef, Steven Ruiz, claimed last month that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star had sought and then obtained the fraudulent paper back in July -- but Brown was adamant Ruiz was lying.

In a statement, Brown's attorney, Sean Burstyn, said the 33-year-old was vaccinated and did have proper paperwork ... adding, "Be like Antonio brown and get the vaccine."

But, the NFL said in a statement of its own on Thursday that after investigating the claims ... it found Brown did "misrepresent" his vaccine status, explaining their review "supported" the allegations made against AB.

The league said Brown has now been banned from playing for the next three games -- adding that Brown has "accepted the discipline" and will not appeal.

The NFL also revealed two other players -- Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards and former Tampa Bay receiver and current free agent John Franklin III -- also misrepresented their vaccine statuses and were also suspended three games.

Brown has been out of the Bucs' lineup since October while battling an ankle injury, but prior to that, he had been shining with Tom Brady -- scoring four receiving TDs in five games.

Originally Published -- 1:21 PM PT

Demi Lovato I'm No Longer 'California Sober' ... Cuts Weed & Booze

Demi Lovato will no longer drink alcohol or use cannabis ... announcing they're now kicking their "California Sober" lifestyle.

The singer just posted a message on Instagram, saying, "I no longer support my 'California sober' ways. Sober sober is the only way to be." It's unclear exactly what caused the revelation, but Demi had previously been criticized for talking so highly about the lifestyle, which allowed for alcohol and marijuana use.

MARCH 2021
WORKS FOR ME
CBS

As we reported, Demi revealed in an interview earlier this year that they were "5-10 minutes from death" when they overdosed on heroin in 2018.

After a lengthy stint in rehab, Demi was able to get back to their singing career and share their message of struggle with substance abuse.

In March, Demi released "Dancing with the Devil" on YouTube TV ... which chronicled their struggles, singing career, and even praised the "California Sober" lifestyle. They later released a song called "California Sober."

H.S. Basketball Teen Arrested Over Post-Game Sucker Punches ... Charged With Felony

BAD SPORTSMANSHIP

The high school basketball player who was seen on video sucker-punching his opponent in a post-game handshake line was arrested on Wednesday and charged with a felony, TMZ Sports has confirmed.

According to court documents, officials accused 17-year-old Carter Prenosil of knocking out his opponent after the Carlisle vs. Nevada hoops game on Tuesday night in Iowa.

In the docs, cops say Prenosil "threw an unwarranted punch" at a Nevada player in both the stomach and the face.

In a video of the altercation, you can see the attack was violent -- with the alleged victim appearing to be KO'ed on his feet.

According to the docs, the player suffered a concussion and a cut to his mouth that required four stitches.

Cops -- who were in attendance at the arena -- say they launched an investigation ... and ultimately arrested Prenosil on Wednesday. He was later charged with felony willful injury -- causing serious injury.

Prenosil is facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the charge. He's due in court for a hearing on the matter on Dec. 13.

We've reached out to Prenosil's father for comment, but so far, no word back yet.

As for Prenosil's school, Carlisle Community School District superintendent Bryce Amos told us in a statement Wednesday, "This is without question an unfortunate incident that is not representative of the school culture that exists in Carlisle Community School District."

"I want to make it clear that this type of conduct is not tolerated at Carlisle CSD. The district will follow the student code of conduct policy and procedures throughout the investigation of this incident and implement appropriate consequences."

Faith Evans Nice Returning to Stage, Even in Mask ... Still Hanging with Stevie J Post-Divorce Filing

GOOD TO BE BACK
TMZ.com

Faith Evans sounds exhilarated about being back on stage after taking a long break from performing ... even though it meant wearing a heavy costume on "The Masked Singer."

The Grammy Award-winning singer joined us Thursday on "TMZ Live" to talk about her Wednesday night elimination in the show's semi-final round. Yep, that was Faith singing as The Skunk all season!!!

She went out with a bang, though ... belting out some Aretha Franklin classics and, as she told us, putting her "stank" on it, even though it wasn't enough to best the Bull.

It's been a while since we've seen Faith perform -- she's been taking time off to care for her autistic son -- and she explains what it was like to be back on stage, even with the heavy burden of that costume on her back.

BEACH DAY

Now, TMZ recently broke the story about Faith's husband, Stevie J, filing for divorce -- but based on some video of them in Malibu a week later, they seem pretty cool with each other.

We asked how things are with her estranged hubby, and she kinda shocked us. Watch the video ... we'd say their marriage isn't dunzo just yet. Either that or is a super amicable split.

Jussie Smollett Trial Actor May Have Scored with Jury ... Over Osundairo Drug Testimony

The prosecution's star witnesses in the Jussie Smollett trial may have a credibility problem with one of the Osundairo brothers ... over supplying Jussie with drugs.

Abimbola 'Bola' Osundairo testified he obtained drugs for Smollett, but didn't sell them to him.

The reason this came up during the trial ... back in 2019, texts surfaced between Jussie and one of the brothers about scoring marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. Documents in the case refer to the transaction this way ... "Smollett would request ... weed, molly, or Whitney [slang for cannabis and controlled substances]." The document goes on to say Jussie used PayPal and Venmo to pay for the drug transactions. And, the document suggests Jussie tried to cover the drug deal by saying payment was for personal training.

Well, Bola testified that yes, he did supply Jussie with drugs, but added, "I'm not a drug dealer. I don't sell."

It's too early to know how this develops ... but jurors may find it hard to swallow Bola's testimony ... that a couple of trainers who have bit parts in a TV show would dig deep into their pockets to pay for the drugs of a wealthy actor. If the jury has issues with this, it could impact the brothers' credibility, which could create the reasonable doubt necessary to acquit Jussie.

The brothers were in court Thursday ... before entering the building they were seen praying together.

Mookie Betts, Fiancee We Got Hitched!!! ... Dodgers Attend Wedding

MLB superstar Mookie Betts is officially a married man -- the Dodgers slugger tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Brianna Hammonds, at an oceanside wedding in California on Wednesday ... and TMZ Sports has the pics!!!

The ceremony in Rancho Palos Verdes looked amazing -- with 29-year-old Betts rocking a green suit and Brianna in a stunning white dress.

Betts' Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts, and teammates Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Joe Kelly, Kenley Jansen and more came through for the monumental moment ... as well as rapper Nelly and Heisman winner Eddie George.

The reception looked like a blast -- with all the players and their WAGs partying it up all night.

Taylor also had more to celebrate -- he just inked a 4-year, $60 million deal this week!!

As we previously reported, Betts and Hammonds got engaged in January 2021 after 15 years of dating. They have a baby girl, Kynlee, together.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Betts -- a 2-time World Series champ -- already had two rings ... and now he's gotta do some rearranging for number three!!

Congrats to the married couple!!

Diddy I Wanna Buy Back Sean John ... Out of Bankruptcy

Diddy is swooping in to try to save his namesake brand ... and he's got grand plans to breathe life back into Sean John.

According to new legal docs obtained by TMZ ... the music and fashion mogul's company recently bid $3.3 million to buy the clothing line's assets out of bankruptcy.

Diddy founded the fashion and lifestyle brand way back in 1998, but as it stands now, the brand management firm, GBG USA Inc., which owns 90% of Sean John, is currently in bankruptcy.

The company has reportedly been looking for someone to come in and buy the brand since May ... and now Diddy is stepping up and looking to be the winning bidder.

Sources close to Diddy tell TMZ ... he is very excited about the prospect of reacquiring Sean John and if successful, he plans to reinvigorate the brand.

It's not a done deal yet ... other potential buyers have until December 15 to submit bids.

Eddie Mekka Carmine from 'Laverne & Shirley' Dead at 69

Eddie Mekka, who most famously played Carmine, the "Big Ragu," on "Laverne & Shirley" has died ... TMZ has learned.

Eddie's brother, Warren Mekjian, tells TMZ ... Eddie was found dead at his home in Newhall, CA on Saturday. We're told friends and neighbors became concerned when they hadn't heard from him in a few days and called cops to go over and check on him.

Warren tells us Eddie had recently been hospitalized for blood clots and could barely walk ... there's no indication his death was suspicious or that there was any foul play involved.

Eddie played Carmine Ragusa -- Shirley's boyfriend on the show from 1976-1983. Carmine would regularly sing on the show. Eddie also had a role on one of "Laverne & Shirley" producer Garry Marshall's other shows, "Blansky's Beauties" -- and he'd been nominated for a Tony Award for his role in "The Lieutenant" ... prior to his TV career taking off.

Like a lot of 70s and 80s TV stars, Eddie also had guest roles on "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat" ... and later he was on the ABC hit, "Family Matters."

Eddie has one daughter, Mia, with Yvonne Marie Grace who he married in 1994.

He was 69.

RIP

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