What we know about deadly prop gun shooting on 'Rust': Baldwin didn't know gun had live rounds

What we know about deadly prop gun shooting on 'Rust': Baldwin didn't know gun had live rounds

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. The shooting occurred on the set for the upcoming Western film “Rust.”

The assistant director did not know the prop gun was loaded with live rounds, according to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court.

Baldwin discharged the gun which shot Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest. Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, was wounded, the records show.

A warrant was obtained Friday so that investigators could document the scene at the ranch where the shooting took place. It notes that Baldwin’s blood-stained costume for was taken as evidence, as was the weapon that was fired.

Investigators also seized other prop guns and ammunition that were being used during shooting of the film starring Baldwin. 

No immediate charges were filed, and sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said Baldwin was permitted to travel.

“He’s a free man,” Rios said.

Shooting at Bonanza Creek Ranch

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. “Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.” 

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. 

The incident is still under active investigation, the sheriff’s office said. Detectives are continuing to interview witnesses.

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 of tweets Friday.

“I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family.”

How can a prop gun kill someone? How the Alec Baldwin tragedy was possible

‘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. The outlets also noted at least two previous misfires on a prop gun on set days before.

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.” 

On Thursday, an incident involving a prop gun discharged by actor Alec Baldwin on the set of the movie "Rust" killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

Who was killed by prop gun?

Hutchins was airlifted to the hospital after being shot by Baldwin. 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.

Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on 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. Hutchins and Souza were transported to a local hospital, where Hutchins was pronounced dead. Souza has since been released.

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

“I was so lucky to have had @halynahutchins as my DP on Archenemy,” he wrote on Instagram. “This is a horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to her family and especially to her son. I am so sad today for everyone who knew her and worked with 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. Hutchins is survived by her husband, Matthew Hutchins, with whom she had a son.

‘Horrifying’:Halyna Hutchins killed after prop gun misfire; Joe Manganiello, more pay tribute

Who was injured?

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.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement: “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.”

Souza last directed 2019’s “Crown Vic,” a feature starring Bridget Moynahan and Thomas Jane that was also produced by Baldwin. His previous credits include 2015’s “Ghost Squad” and 2017’s “Break Night.”

Union says its members did not staff the 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. The gun was intended to have fired a blank, but an autopsy found a bullet lodged near 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.″ 

In response to Thursday’s on-set incident, 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. Period.”

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‘No one should ever be killed’ by prop:Alec Baldwin mishap surfaces Brandon Lee death

Will ‘Rust’ continue filming?

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

However, production has been halted amid the ongoing investigation, and “the safety of our cast and crew remains our top priority,” according to reports. 

“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.”

What is the movie ‘Rust’ 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 Ali, Charles Trepany

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