Alec Baldwin Discharges Prop Gun Killing Crew Member
On Thursday, actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm near Santa Fe where he killed the director of photography of the film and injured the director.
The film crew was preparing to shoot a scene inside a wooden chapel-like building on a ranch outside of Santa Fe. In preparation for the scene, assistant director Dave Halls went outside to grab a prop gun off a cart. He then handed the gun to the film’s star Baldwin and assured him that it was safe to use as there was no ammo inside the gun. Halls yelled “Cold gun,” according to NPR informing the rest of the crew.
When Baldwin set the gun off he killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her. Mamie Mitchell, the film’s script supervisor, was standing right next to Hutchins when she was killed. Information gathered from the Associated Press says that Mitchell ran out of the building and called 911 telling them to send everyone. “This woman is gone at the beginning of her career. She was an extraordinary, rare, very rare woman,” Mitchell said.
Hutchins was airlifted later that afternoon to the University of New Mexico hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Director Souza was taken to Christus St. Vincent Medical Center. He has since been released from the hospital and Matt DelPiano, head of Cavalry Media – one of the companies producing this film described Souza’s condition as “fine.”
The gun was one of three guns that Hannah Gutierrez had set on the cart outside the building they were filming in. Halls brought it to Baldwin unaware that there were live rounds loaded inside, according to the detective’s search warrant application. It is still unclear on how many rounds were fired but court records say that Gutierrez had removed a shell casting after the incident and handed the gun over to the authorities. The warrant also says that investigators are seeking to examine Baldwin’s blood soaked costume that he wore on the set as well as other prop guns and any footage of the incident that may exist.
The investigation is still ongoing and authorities say that no charges have been filed. Detectives will continue to interview witnesses of the tragedy. Baldwin is also in full cooperation with authorities as they look further into the shooting.
Baldwin wrote to Twitter on Friday saying “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 adds “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.”
There were reports of Baldwin speaking on the phone outside the Sheriff’s Office looking “distressed and in tears” according to NPR.
Production for the film “Rust,” has been put on hold for now. According to the Internet Movie Database Website the movie tells a story of a thirteen-year-old boy who must fend for himself and his brother after the death of their parents in 1880.
As the community mourns the life lost, Hutchins is being remembered as a talented artist and team player, says NPR. In 2019 Hutchins was named one of the American Society of Cinematographers’ (ASC) Rising Stars. “You need to develop your own vision, but the key to a successful film is communication with your director and your team,” she told American Cinematographer Magazine. Several crew members attended a private memorial on Friday night in Santa Fe.
The incident coincidently came close to three decades after Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, dying in a similar accident where he was killed due to the firing of a prop gun that was loaded. Similar cases have also happened where stage weapons were loaded with live rounds on a set. This has brought awareness of the industry’s safety precautions when using such props. According to an investigation by the Associated Press published in 2016, accidents on movie sets have killed at least 43 people since 1990.