LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — One crew member was killed and a second was wounded Thursday afternoon when actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun on a movie set in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The shooting occurred on the set of the independent Western movie “Rust.” The director that handed the firearm to Baldwin was unware it was loaded.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography, and 42-year-old Joel Souza, the film’s director, were shot when Baldwin discharged the prop firearm at about 1:50 p.m. at the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set.
Hutchins was taken by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she died, the sheriff’s office said. She leaves behind a husband and young son.
Souza was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries. Actress Frances Fisher, who is in “Rust,” says Souza has been discharged from the hospital.
Sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said detectives were investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged. According to a report from Indiewire, IATSE Local 44, which includes prop masters, sent a letter to its members Friday alleging that the gun which was fired by Baldwin contained a live round. It also alleged that the prop master on “Rust” was not a member of IATSE Local 44.
“If someone actually put a live round in there, No. 1, that shouldn’t have been on set, and No. 2, they should have visually inspected the gun first with a pencil down the barrel and a flashlight to make sure there’s no obstruction in the mechanism,” veteran movie prop master Bill Davis told CBSLA Thursday. “And No. 3, they need to inspect the round that’s going in there. So it sounds to me, if someone actually got killed, which they did, that would have to be a live round of ammunition.”
Production on “Rust” has been halted.
“Those are all real firearms,” Davis added. “What’s fake about it is the ammunition, the blanks that are loaded into it. There’s no projectile in a blank. But what I think happened is people just didn’t inspect the weapon and/or did not inspect the ammunition that they were loading into it.”
The Santa Fe New Mexican shared photos of a distraught Baldwin outside the sheriff’s office following the shooting.
“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,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter 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. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
“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 the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.
The film also stars Jensen Ackles and Travis Fimmel.
“She really was a rising star, I was very impressed and proud of her,” friend and fellow filmmaker Gustavo Sampaio told CBSLA Friday. Sampaio worked on a short film with Sampaio in 2017. “I often thought that I wanted to work with her again. But, she was growing so fast, she was doing these big films now.”
Hutchins decided to become a filmmaker after a career as a journalist in her native Ukraine.
“She was just very kind,” Sampaio said. “That’s the main word when I think of when I think of Halyna.”
Fisher posted a photo to Instagram Friday of her and Hutchins taken on the set of Rust.
“Rest in Paradise Dear Halyna,” Fisher wrote. I loved watching you work: Your intense focus and your vibrant command of the room. I asked you to stand next to me in our #IAsolidarity #RUST cast&crew photo because I wanted to make sure you were front and center, seeing as there are so few non-male directors of photography. There is a line from #Unforgiven that maybe someday I will have the courage to put here. It pretty much sums it all up. In the meantime, my prayers are with your family and with all who love and miss you.”
Hutchins was a member of the International Cinematographers Guild, which released a statement which read in part, “The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event. This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our guild’s family.”
In 1993, Brandon Lee, 28, son of the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee, died after being hit by a .44-caliber slug while filming a death scene for the movie “The Crow.” The gun was supposed to have fired a blank, but an autopsy turned up a bullet lodged near his spine.
A Twitter account run by Lee’s sister Shannon said: “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.”
In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum on the set of the television series “Cover Up.”
“We are devastated by this tragic news,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement Thursday. “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. This is still an active investigation and we do not yet have all the facts. We will continue to work with production, the other unions, and the authorities to investigate this incident and to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again.”
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)