Alec Baldwin discharged prop gun that killed woman on movie set, sheriff says

Actor and producer Alec Baldwin fired the prop gun on a New Mexico movie set that killed the director of photography and injured the director, an accident that is renewing questions about safety hazards on film sets.

During the production of a movie, Baldwin shot two people Thursday afternoon on the set: cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42; and the film’s director, Joel Souza, 48, according to a statement by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.

Hutchins was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she was pronounced dead, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Souza is being treated at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe.

The Sheriff’s Office said deputies were dispatched to the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set, where filming was underway for the western “Rust,” after calls to 911 at 1:50 p.m. Baldwin was starring in the movie in addition to serving as one of the producers.

No charges have been filed, but the Sheriff’s Office said that “witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”

Baldwin said Friday he’s “fully cooperating with the police investigation” into the incident.

“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 Friday in a series of tweets.

Production has been halted on the low-budget movie, which began filming this month.

“We received the devastating news this evening, that one of our members, Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography on a production called ‘Rust’ in New Mexico, died from injuries sustained on the set,” the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 600 said in a statement Thursday night.

“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,” said the IATSE local, which represents nearly 8,000 camera workers, including cinematographers.

A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.

It was unclear late Thursday how that might have happened even though protocols for the use of weapons and prop guns on movie sets are typically strict.

Usually, a prop master or a licensed armorer is responsible for handling weapons on set, including loading blanks. That person would monitor the gun’s use and show it to the assistant director or actors who might use it. Productions also often require shields to be used during filming, although not during rehearsals. Live ammunition is not allowed on a set.

In an email to its members, Local 44 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union that represents prop makers, said the shot that killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza on Thursday was “a live single round,”

“As many of us have already heard, there was an accidental weapons discharge on a production titled Rust being filmed in New Mexico,” said the North Hollywood-based local. “A live single round was accidentally fired on set by the principal actor, hitting both the Director of Photography, Local 600 member Halyna Hutchins, and Director Joel Souza. Both were rushed to the hospital,” the email said.

A source close to The Times said the union does not know what projectile was in the gun and clarified that “live” is an industry term that refers to a gun being loaded with some material such as a blank ready for filming.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Baldwin was seen Thursday outside the Sheriff’s Office in tears.

“According to investigators, it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Juan Rios. “Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.”

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