Alec Baldwin was handed a loaded weapon by an assistant director who indicated it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot a cinematographer, court records released and obtained Friday by the Associated Press show. Shooting occurred at the location for “Rust,” a Western movie.
According to Santa Fe’s search warrant, the assistant director was unaware that the prop guns were loaded with live bullets.
Baldwin discharged the gun which shot Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest. According to records, Joel Souza who stood behind her was injured.
Investigators obtained a warrant Friday to document the scene at Ranch where shooting occurred. It notes that Baldwin’s blood-stained costume for was taken as evidence, as was the weapon that was fired.
Other prop guns and ammunition were also confiscated by investigators during filming of Baldwin’s movie.
No immediate charges were filed, and sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said Baldwin was permitted to travel.
“He’s a free man,” Rios said.
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The shooting occurred around 1:50 p.m. local time on the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“According to investigators it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged,” a Thursday release from the sheriff’s office said. Investigators are currently investigating the type and manner in which the projectile was fired.
USA TODAY obtained an email sent to members of IATSE Local 44, a union of prop makers and other craft persons who work within the entertainment industry, about the incident. The message said the prop gun from the “Rust” set was loaded with “a live single round” and that no Local 44 members were on set.
As many people have heard, there was an accidently fired weapon on the set of a Rust production being shot in New Mexico. “A live bullet was accidentally shot on-set by the principal actor,” read the email.
According to the sheriff’s Office, this incident remains under investigation. Witnesses are being interviewed by detectives.
On Friday morning, Baldwin and his family reacted to the “tragic” news and confirmed he is “fully cooperating” with the ongoing investigation.
“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” he said In a series tweets Friday.
“I fully cooperate with the police to investigate how this tragedy took place and I am in touch to her husband and offer my support for him and his families.”
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‘Rust’ crew members had walked off set to protest working conditions
Crew members reportedly walked off the set of “Rust” in protest of working conditions hours before Hutchins was killed.
According to the Los Angeles Times and Deadline, crew members working on the upcoming Western raised concerns about several problems, including safety issues, prior to Thursday’s incident.
The outlets report that, hours before the fatal incident, members of the “Rust” camera crew packed up their gear and walked off the job in protest and, per the LA Times, were replaced with nonunion crew members soon after. According to the outlets, there were at least two other misfires of prop guns on sets days earlier.
In a statement to the LA Times and Deadline, Rust Movie Productions LLC said the “safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.”
Who was shot by a pro gun?
Hutchins This was After being shot by Baldwin, she was airlifted into the hospital. She was later pronounced dead by medical personnel at University of New Mexico Hospital, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. She was 42.
Born in Ukraine, Hutchins previously served as director of cinematography for the 2020 action film “Archenemy,” starring Joe Manganiello, who paid tribute to the “absolutely incredible talent” on Thursday.
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“I was so lucky to have had @halynahutchins as my DP on Archenemy,” he wrote on Instagram. It is truly a terrible tragedy. Her family, and particularly her son, are in my thoughts. Today is a sad day for all of those who worked alongside her.
According to her website, she grew up on the Soviet base in the Arctic Circle and was “surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines.” She received a graduate degree in international journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine, worked on British documentary productions in Europe and graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015. She was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019. Matthew Hutchins was her husband and she has a son with him.
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Who was the victim?
The director, 48-year-old Joel Souza, was transported via ambulance to Christus St. Vincent’s hospital and later was released, according to his rep Matt DelPiano.
Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA said that the tragic news had devastated him. Our hearts go out to the family of Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins who has passed away and to Director Joel Souza who is injured and hospitalized.”
Baldwin also produced 2019’s “Crown Vic”, which Souza directed. It starred Bridget Moynahan as well as Thomas Jane. His previous credits include 2015’s “Ghost Squad” and 2017’s “Break Night.”
Union claims its members didn’t staff props
Variety and IndieWire reported IATSE Local 44 clarified that New Mexico crew members staffed the props on “Rust,” not its union members.
“Local 44 has confirmed that the Props, Set Decoration, Special Effects and Construction Departments were staffed by New Mexico crew members,” Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Pawluc said in a statement. “There were no Local 44 members on the call sheet.”
Has prop gun misfiring happened before?
There have been scores of actors and crew members injured or killed on past movie sets like Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, who was shot to death on the set of “The Crow” in 1993. An autopsy determined that the bullet was lodged in his spine.
Earlier in 1984, Jon-Erik Hexum, 26, died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette on the set of the TV series ″Cover Up.″
As a result of Thursday’s incident on-set, the official account of Brandon Lee – run by his sister, Shannon Lee – wrote: “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust.’ No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. No.
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Is Rust going to continue filming?
Filming for “Rust” was set to continue into early November, according to a news release from the New Mexico Film Office.
Production was halted due to the ongoing investigation. However, reports state that “the safety and well-being of our crew and cast remains our first priority.”
“The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones,” Rust Movie Productions LLC, said in a statement obtained by Deadline and the New York Times. “We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”
How does the film ‘Rust” come about?
The movie “Rust” is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to IMDb.com. The teen goes on the run with his long estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after he’s sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.
Contributing: Rasha Al, Charles Trepany USA TODAY, The Associated Pres
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