Alec Baldwin was handed a loaded weapon by an assistant director before the fatal shooting
In the moments before fatally shooting a cinematographer, Alec Baldwin was handed a loaded pistol by an assistant director who said it was safe to use, according to court records revealed Friday.
According to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court, the assistant director had no idea the toy gun was loaded with real ammunition. Halyna Hutchins, a cinematographer, was shot in the chest. According to the records, director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, was injured.
The warrant was issued on Friday in order for investigators to photograph the scene at the ranch where the incident occurred. Baldwin’s blood-stained costume for the $6 million Western picture Rust, as well as the weapon used in the shooting, was taken as evidence, according to the report.
Other prop firearms and ammo that were utilized during the filming of the film starring Baldwin were also recovered by investigators.
Baldwin had already described the killing as a “tragic accident” earlier in the day. According to the sheriff’s office, Baldwin was performing at the time of the shooting. The number of bullets fired was unknown, and little was known about the weapon.
“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. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
Detectives were on the scene Friday morning, according to Sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios, gathering evidence and information.
According to him, no charges have been filed yet, and Baldwin is free to travel.
Rios declared, “He’s a free man.”
On Friday, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau stated it is investigating the incident and that “no other information will be shared at this time, awaiting the completion of the inquiry.” The manufacturing will be put on hold “for an undetermined period of time,” according to a spokeswoman for the company, and workers will be counseled. They went on to say that the production is completely collaborating with authorities.
The 63-year-old actor, who is best known for his roles in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October, as well as his Saturday Night Live parody of former President Donald Trump, was seen distraught outside the sheriff’s office on Thursday.
Some of the guns seen in movies are real weapons that can shoot bullets or blanks, which are gunpowder charges that produce a flash and a noise but no dangerous projectile. Even blanks, on the other hand, can spew hot gases and paper or plastic wadding from the barrel, which can be deadly at close range. In the case of an actor’s death in 1984, this was the case.
In a separate on-set incident in 1993, actor Brandon Lee was killed when a round was left in a pretend gun, and similar killings have occurred with live rounds put into stage guns.
According to Steven Hall, an experienced director of photography in the United Kingdom, gun-safety policy on sets in the United States has improved since then. However, he claims that being behind the camera is one of the riskiest places to be in because that person is in the line of fire when an actor looks to point a pistol at the audience.
According to a source close to the production, crew members had complained about working conditions in the days leading up to the incident, and some had been replaced with non-union personnel. Due to these accusations, a number of crew members walked off the site on Thursday morning, before the incident occurred.
In a statement, production company 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.” They added, “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”
Hutchins, 42, was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead. Souza, 48, was rushed to a hospital by ambulance after suffering a collarbone injury. On Friday, Rust actress Frances Fisher tweeted that Souza had been released from the hospital, but Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center declined to confirm, citing patient privacy, and Fisher’s agents did not respond to a request for comment.
Rios said deputies were dispatched to the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie location around 2 p.m. after 911 calls reported a person being shot there. The ranch has appeared in a number of films, including Tom Hanks’ latest Western News of the World.
“This investigation remains open and active,” Rios said in a statement.
A photo of the Rust actors standing together in solidarity with crew members was one of Hutchins’ final social media posts. She was a member of the IATSE, which represents crew personnel. After threatening to strike in recent weeks over issues such as excessive hours and on-set safety, the union is due to vote on a new contract with producers soon. IATSE stated it “mourned” Rust’s death and would “activate our alliances across the industry to provide assistance and resources to our sisters, brothers, and kin” in a statement released after the tragedy.
Hutchins, a 2015 graduate of the American Thriller Institute, served as director of photography on Joe Manganiello’s upcoming action film Archenemy. In 2019, American Cinematographer labeled her an “emerging star.”
“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” said “Archenemy” director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter. “She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”
On his Instagram account, Manganiello described Hutchins as “an unbelievable talent” and “a lovely person.” He expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to work with her.
According to Oleh Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Hutchins was a Ukrainian citizen. The country’s consulate in San Francisco was collaborating with law enforcement officials in the United States.
Baldwin collaborated with Souza as a producer on Crown Vic, a 2019 film starring Thomas Jane as a veteran Los Angeles cop on the trail for two bank thieves. Hanna’s Gold, Souza’s first credited feature, was a treasure hunt adventure starring Luke Perry, released in 2010.
Rust’s production was suspended after the shoot. According to the Internet Movie Database website, the film is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to care for himself and his younger brother when their parents die in 1880s Kansas. After being sentenced to death for the unintentional killing of a local rancher, the kid goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin).
Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died in 1993 after being struck by a.44-caliber slug during filming a death scene for the film The Crow. An autopsy revealed a bullet lodged near his spine, despite the fact that the gun was supposed to have shot a blank.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza and everybody involved in the incident on ‘Rust,'” stated Lee’s sister Shannon on Twitter. On a movie set, no one should ever be killed with a gun. Period.”
On the set of the television series Cover Up 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.
Shootings like this have also occurred at historical reenactments. In 2015, during a presentation in Tombstone, Arizona, an actor portraying a historical shootout was shot and wounded with a live round during a show that was meant to employ blanks.
Three spectators were injured in 2011 at Hill City, South Dakota, a tourist town that recreates an Old West experience when a re-enactor shot real bullets instead of blanks.