While rehearsing for a scene in the Western movie that he was making last week, actor and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun that killed the film’s cinematographer and wounded its director.
The shot struck cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest and Joel Souza, the director, in the shoulder. Hutchins, 42, was airlifted the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque where she died from her wounds, the Sheriff’s Office said. Souza, 48, was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe and was released on Friday.
The authorities in Santa Fe are still investigating the Oct. 21 shooting and no charges have been placed yet. Several details released over the weekend including court documents, statements from crew members, and the transcription of a 911 call reveal more details about the tragic incident.
Here are the latest developments:
Rust Script Supervisor Sues Baldwin and Producers
Mamie Mitchell, the script supervisor who was the first to call 911 after the shooting occurred, has filed a lawsuit against Baldwin and the film’s producers who she said could have prevented the tragedy.
The allegations in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, include assault, intentional of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Every safety protocol designed to ensure that firearms would be safely used were ignored, and actions that were taken were against all industry norms,” Mitchell’s lawyers said in the suit. The complaint also said that Baldwin “intentionally, without cause or excuse, cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not called for the cocking and firing of a firearm.”
Lead Bullet Fatally Struck Hutchins; 500 Rounds of Ammo Found on Set, Officials Say
Authorities in Santa Fe County announced on Oct. 27 that the projectile that fatally struck Hutchins and injured Souza was a lead bullet, and was one of roughly 500 rounds of ammunition seized from the movie set. The lead projectile was recovered from Souza’s shoulder, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said during a news conference.
“We also believe that we have the spent shell casing from the bullet that was fired from the gun,” Mendoza said during the news conference, according to Los Angeles Times.
The evidence will be submitted to an FBI crime lab, Mendoza said.
“There was a total of 500 rounds of ammunition — that is a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting [are] live rounds,” Mendoza said. “[It’s] too early right now to comment on charges at this point.”
Investigators also seized a total of three guns from the movie set, along with a Colt .45 revolver that Baldwin fire, killing Hutchins, Mendoza said. The other firearms included an action Army revolver with a modified cylinder, which officials said might not have been able to fire rounds, and an inoperable plastic Colt .45 revolver.
Mendoza also said that his team is investigating allegations that crew members were engaging in target practice with guns on the set prior to the deadly shooting.
“I would encourage anybody that has any information that any target practicing or any firearm was discharged away from the movie set for practice or for whatever reason, to contact the sheriff,” Mendoza said.
Alec Baldwin Meets with Family of Hutchins
A day after the shooting, Baldwin shared his condolences to the Hutchins’ family via a series of tweets 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.”
Over the weekend, the Emmy award winning actor was spotted meeting with Hutchins’ husband, Matthew, and their 9-year-old son near a Santa Fe hotel. In the emotional photos captured by a BACKGRID photographer, Baldwin is seen embracing Hutchins’ family members.
Matthew told Fox News on Friday that he had made contact with Baldwin. “I have spoken with Alec Baldwin, and he is being very supportive.”
Matthew took to Instagram to honor his late wife with the caption, “We miss you, Halyna!” His mother, who is Halyna’s mother-in-law, told Fox News, “This is just a horrible time for us. She was my daughter-in-law, and she was a wonderful, wonderful person.”
A source told PEOPLE that Baldwin “is canceling other projects” and is looking “to take some time to himself and re-center himself” following the tragic incident.
The source also said Baldwin was “hysterical and absolutely inconsolable for hours” following the shooting: “Everyone knows this was an accident, but he’s absolutely devastated.”
Rust Crew Members Walked Off Set Hours Before Shooting
Hours before the fatal shooting occurred, six crew workers off the set of Rust to protest working conditions surrounding the low-budget film.
The camera operators and their assistants had complained about working long hours exceeding 13 hours, having to commute about 50 miles per day to the set, delayed paychecks, according three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment, the Los Angeles Times reports. The sources also said safety protocols standard in the television and film industry, including gun inspections, were not strictly followed on the set.
Prior to the fatal Oct. 21 shooting, there were at least two accidental gun discharges on the set on Oct. 16. Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired shots after being told that the gun didn’t have any ammunition.
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” a crew member told the Times. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
Rust Movie Productions told the Times in a statement, “The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. 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. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”
Assistant Director Declared the Firearm Safe Before Giving it to Baldwin
According to court documents, Souza, the film director, said the then assistant director, Dave Halls, informed Baldwin that the firearm was a “cold gun,” meaning that it did not have any live rounds, the Times reports.
Souza also said that aside from Baldwin, the only other people who handled the gun for the scene was armorer or weapon’s handler, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and Halls, who gave the gun to Baldwin, the affidavit said.
“Joel said as far as he knows, no one gets checked for live ammunition on their person prior and after the scenes are being filmed,” Detective Joel Cano wrote in the affidavit. “The only thing checked are the firearms to avoid live ammunition being in them. Joel stated there should never be live rounds whatsoever, near or around the scene.”
Petition Created to Ban the Use of Real Guns on Movie Sets
A petition calling for the film industry to end the use of real firearms on sets has acquired more than 27,000 signatures, as of Monday afternoon. The Change.org petition was created by Bandar Albuliwi who attended the same film school as Hutchins, he said.
“We need to make sure that this avoidable tragedy never happens again,” Albuliwi wrote in the petition. “There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century. Real guns are no longer needed on film production sets. This isn’t the early 90’s, when Brandon Lee was killed in the same manner. Change needs to happen before additional talented lives are lost.”
Albuliwi referenced the shooting of Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, who died in a similar incident during the filming of a scene on the set The Crow in 1993. Brandon was shot when a bullet that was lodged in the barrel of the firearm discharged along with a blank cartridge. Shannon Lee, Brandon’s sister who runs his official Twitter account, issued a statement following the news of Hutchins’ death.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on “Rust,” she tweeted. “No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”
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. 💔
— Brandon Bruce Lee (@brandonblee) October 22, 2021
In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Shannon emphasized the importance of not having real firearms on set to prevent accidents such as what happened to her brother and Hutchins from continuing to happen.
“There are rules that are supposed to be followed,” she said. “I am certainly not pointing fingers at anyone because that would be the wrong thing to do. But, there is no reason for something like this to happen. My heart goes out to Alec Baldwin. I feel for the work he is going to have to do to process this and try to find some measure of peace around it. And even more so for the family of Halyna Hutchins. It’s having your whole world flip upside down. There should be compassion for all the pain everyone is going through.”
ABC’s cop drama The Rookie announced Friday that it would no longer be using ‘live’ weapons on the show.
“The safety of our cast and crew is too important,” The Rookie showrunner, Alexi Hawley, wrote in an email first reported on by The Hollywood Reporter. “Any risk is too much risk.”
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