Sheriff: Alec Baldwin Discharged Prop Firearm That Left Cinematographer Dead and Director Wounded

A prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin on the New Mexico movie set of Rust, killing a cinematographer and wounding the director, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department.

Director of photography Halyna Hutchins, 42, died Thursday after being injured when the prop gun was “discharged” by Baldwin, the Western’s producer and star. Hutchins had been transported by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the sheriff’s department said.

A spokesperson from Rust said in a statement: “The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones. We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”

The Ukraine-born, Los Angeles-based DP graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015. Her credits included indie films Archenemy, Blindfire and The Mad Hatter.

The second victim was the film’s director, Joel Souza, 48, who was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. Juan Ríos, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, told THR on Thursday evening that he was in critical condition, However, on Friday morning, Ríos said his condition is unclear and referred to the hospital for that information.

An update on the investigation will likely not occur until next week, Ríos said, as interviews are ongoing and evidence is being collected. Baldwin was interviewed Thursday by investigators at the sheriff’s department, Ríos said.

Directors Guild of America president Lesli Linka Glatter said in a statement that the DGA is “incredibly saddened” to hear of Hutchins’ death and Souza’s injuries. “We await further details and a full investigation. Our hearts go out to Halyna’s family, to Joel, and to everyone impacted.”

Ríos told The Hollywood Reporter that an active investigation was underway and no charges have been filed.

“According to investigators it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement. “Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.”

Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Bonanza Creek Ranch set near Santa Fe, New Mexico, at 1:50 p.m. MT after a 911 call indicated an individual had been shot on set.

A spokesperson from the production said the “accident” involved the misfire of a prop gun with blanks. “Production has been halted for the time being. The safety of our cast and crew remains our top priority,” the initial statement said.

The Local 600 labor union, of which Hutchins was a member, said in a statement, “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.”

Firearm accidents on Hollywood sets are extremely rare, but do occur. In 1993, Brandon Lee, the son of famed martial arts star Bruce Lee, was accidentally shot and killed on the set of The Crow by another actor who fired a revolver that had been improperly prepared.

In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum was involved in a prop gun incident on the set of CBS’ Cover Up. During a break in filming, Hexum accidentally shot himself while playing with the firearm, not realizing a blank was still in the prop gun. He died from his injuries six days later at the age of 26.

The official Twitter page for Brandon Bruce Lee posted: “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 RustBaldwin stars as infamous Western outlaw Harland Rust. When his estranged grandson is convicted of an accidental murder and sentenced to hang, Rust travels to Kansas to break him out of prison. The two fugitives must then outrun U.S. Marshal Wood Helm and bounty hunter Fenton “Preacher” Lang.

The film also stars Frances Fisher, Jensen Ackles and Travis Fimmel.

Oct. 22, 7:51 a.m. Updated to reflect Joel Souza’s condition is unknown.

10:10 p.m. Updated with statement from the DGA.

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