Alec Baldwin discharged prop gun containing a 'live single round' in fatal 'Rust' set incident

·7 min read

Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm on the set of the upcoming film "Rust" on Thursday, killing the cinematographer and injuring the film's director in an on-set incident, authorities say.

A helicopter transported cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. The director, 48-year-old Joel Souza, was transported via ambulance to Christus St. Vincent’s hospital and has since been released, according to his rep Matt DelPiano.

A search warrant has been executed for the Bonanza Creek Ranch, where "Rust" was in production, according to Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Juan Rios.

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 of us have already heard there was an accidental weapons discharge on a production titled 'Rust' being filmed in New Mexico. A live single round was accidentally fired on set by the principal actor," the email read.

Rios told USA TODAY Friday he can neither confirm nor deny what type of ammunition was in the prop gun: “That information is one of the particulars that we’re trying to determine at this point – what kind of projectile was in that firearm.”

Alec Baldwin speaks on the phone in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office in Santa Fe, N.M., after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film "Rust."
Alec Baldwin speaks on the phone in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office in Santa Fe, N.M., after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film "Rust."

The general IATSE office had "no comment" on the email sent to Local 44 members but sent a statement of condolences to Hutchin's family.

"Our entire alliance mourns this unspeakable loss with Halyna’s family, friends, and the Rust crew," the Friday statement read.

More: What we know about the deadly shooting on Alec Baldwin's movie set of 'Rust'

Previously, a spokesperson for Baldwin told The Associated Press there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.

Baldwin spoke publicly for the first time Friday in a Twitter thread about the incident, writing he is "fully cooperating with the police."

"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 wrote.

'My heart is broken': Alec Baldwin says he's 'fully cooperating' after deadly prop gun incident

Baldwin also added that he has been in contact with Hutchins' husband, Matthew Hutchins, who told Insider in a Friday interview he doesn't "think there are words to communicate the situation"

Flowers were left on the main sign for Bonanza Creek Ranch on County Road 45 south of Santa Fe, New Mexico on Oct. 22. The movie, "Rust," had been filming at the ranch when Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and Director Joel Souza were shot on set. Hutchins later died from the injury.
Flowers were left on the main sign for Bonanza Creek Ranch on County Road 45 south of Santa Fe, New Mexico on Oct. 22. The movie, "Rust," had been filming at the ranch when Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and Director Joel Souza were shot on set. Hutchins later died from the injury.

"I am not going to be able to comment about the facts or the process of what we're going through right now, but I appreciate that everyone has been very sympathetic," Hutchins said.

A prop firearm discharged by veteran actor Alec Baldwin, who is starring and producing a Western movie, killed his director of photography and injured the director.
A prop firearm discharged by veteran actor Alec Baldwin, who is starring and producing a Western movie, killed his director of photography and injured the director.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Baldwin was seen Thursday outside the sheriff’s office in tears. USA TODAY's attempts to get comment from him have been unsuccessful.

What happened on the 'Rust' set that left 1 dead, 1 injured

Deputies responded to a 911 call Thursday afternoon that someone had been shot on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set of "Rust," according to the sheriff's office.

"According to investigators it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged," a release from the sheriff's office said. "Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged."

The incident is still under active investigation and no charges have been filed, the sheriff's office said. Detectives are continuing to interview witnesses.

"Rust" stars Baldwin, 63, who also serves as a producer on the film. Production on the Western has been halted.

The International Cinematographers Guild confirmed Thursday that the woman fatally shot was Hutchins.

“The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event,” guild president John Lindley and executive director Rebecca Rhine said in a statement.

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland released a joint statement Thursday, writing they would be working with producers, unions and authorities to "prevent such a thing from happening again.”

"We are devastated by this tragic news. 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," the statement read.

“We along with the entire film community in New Mexico are saddened by the tragedy that happened on the set of Rust, yesterday. We send our deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Halyna Hutchins and are keeping positive thoughts for a complete recovery for Mr. Joel Souza," the New Mexico Film Office wrote in a statement.

Hollywood mourns Halyna Hutchins

Director of photography Halyna Hutchins, shown here at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on the set while filming the movie "Rust" in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Oct. 21, 2021. The film's star and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm that misfired while loaded with blanks, according to authorities.
Director of photography Halyna Hutchins, shown here at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on the set while filming the movie "Rust" in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Oct. 21, 2021. The film's star and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm that misfired while loaded with blanks, according to authorities.

Hutchins previously served as director of cinematography for the 2020 action film "Archenemy," starring Joe Manganiello. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Ukrainian born cinematographer worked as an investigative journalist in her first career for British documentary productions in Eastern Europe. In 2015 she graduated from the American Film Institute and was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019. She is survived by her husband, Matthew Hutchins, with whom she had a son.

More: Halyna Hutchins killed after 'horrifying' prop gun misfire; Joe Manganiello, more pay tribute

Hutchins' most recent Instagram posts showcased images from the Bonanza Creek Ranch set.

Souza last directed 2019's "Crown Vic," a feature starring Bridget Moynahan and Thomas Jane that was also produced by Baldwin.

Reactions began rolling in from Hollywood on Thursday evening.

"I’m in shock. I was so lucky to have had Halyna Hutchins as my DP on Archenemy. An incredible talent & great person. I can’t believe this could happen in this day and age… gunfire from a prop gun could kill a crew member? What a horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to her family," "Archenemy" star Manganiello tweeted.

"Asking for your prayers tonight friends," Baldwin's younger brother Stephen Baldwin posted on Instagram Friday morning. "Not much can be said other than please pray for all involved in the wake of this tragic accident."

"I’m so sad about losing Halyna," tweeted director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who worked with Hutchins on "Archenemy." "And so infuriated that this could happen on a set. She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film."

"Absolutely horrifying and devastating news about cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. My heart goes out to her family," wrote Elijah Wood on Twitter.

"My greatest fear is that someone will be fatally hurt on one of my sets. I pray this will never happen. My heart goes out to all of those affected by the tragedy today on Rust, especially Halyna Hutchins & her family," wrote director James Gunn.

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.

Filming for “Rust” was set to continue into early November, according to a news release from the New Mexico Film Office.

Prop guns have been previously implicated in deaths on entertainment productions.

What is a prop gun?: How the Alec Baldwin tragedy was possible

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Officers respond to the scene of a fatal accidental shooting at a Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set near Santa Fe, N.M. Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Officers respond to the scene of a fatal accidental shooting at a Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set near Santa Fe, N.M. Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

In 1993, Brandon Lee, 28, son of the martial-arts star Bruce Lee, was accidentally shot to death with a prop gun while filming the movie "The Crow.″ The gun was intended to have fired a blank, but an autopsy found a bullet lodged near his spine.

More: Prop gun death at Alec Baldwin film 'Rust' isn't the first accident on a movie set

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.″

Contributing: Andrea Mandell, Elise Brisco, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alec Baldwin discharged gun in incident that killed cinematographer

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