Alec Baldwin received what was described as a safe “cold gun” on the set of his movie “Rust,” but the prop gun contained live bullets when it was fired, according to details of the police investigation into the fatal shooting released Friday.
The shot hit cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest and director Joel Souza, who was behind her, on the shoulder, according to a county sheriff’s affidavit filed in Santa Fe Magistrates Court.
Hutchins died from her injuries and Souza was injured, but has since been released from a local hospital.
The deputy principal who handed Baldwin the prop gun did not know it contained actual rounds, the affidavit from Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department Detective Joel Cano said.
Baldwin said Friday he was in shock from the accidental shooting when reports of strikes surfaced at the “Rust” set up earlier in the week over unsafe conditions.
The “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” star said he was “cooperating fully” with authorities to determine how the incident occurred on Thursday.
Production on the film was immediately discontinued. The sheriff’s department said no charges had been filed and the investigation remained open. Baldwin voluntarily gave a statement about the shooting, the sheriff’s department said.
1-There are no words to convey my shock and sadness over the tragic accident that claimed the life of Halyna Hutchins, our deeply admired wife, mother and colleague. I am fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and
– AlecBaldwin (HABF) (@AlecBaldwin) October 22, 2021
2- I am in contact with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, her son, and everyone who knew and loved Halyna.
– AlecBaldwin (HABF) (@AlecBaldwin) October 22, 2021
The affidavit was filed Friday in support of a search warrant for “old western style clothing” worn by Baldwin that appeared to have blood stains, along with firearms, documentation, ammunition and cameras from the scene.
The search warrant was approved by a Santa Fe judge.
Cano said the incident occurred at Bonanza Creek Ranch, south of Santa Fe, during a rehearsal and it was unclear if it had been filmed.
He said the backup gun was one of three in a car outside a building. One of them was taken by the film’s assistant director, who came in and handed it to Baldwin.
“When the deputy director handed the gun to actor Alec Baldwin, (he) yelled ‘cold gun,’ indicating that the propeller gun did not have any bullets,” the affidavit reads.
Director of photography Halyna Hutchins is featured in this undated photo from the brochure. © Via Reuters, Swen Studios
As the investigation progressed, questions arose about working conditions on the set of “Rust,” a small-budget Western film in which Baldwin was the lead and co-producer.
The Los Angeles Times and Deadline Hollywood quoted several members of the crew and others close to the production as saying that six or seven camera operators had left the set of “Rust” hours before the tragedy.
Both outlets also reported that there had been at least one previous misfire with the propeller gun.
“We mentioned everything from the lack of payment for three weeks, the withdrawal of our hotels despite asking for them in our agreements, the lack of security from Covid and, in addition, the bad security of the weapons. Bad security period in the set!” a member of the camera crew wrote on a private Facebook page, according to Deadline.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the accounts. Rust Movie Productions did not respond to a request for comment on Friday, but said in a statement that it was investigating.
“While we are not aware of any official complaints about the safety of weapons or accessories on set, we will conduct an internal review of our procedures while production is closed,” the company said in its statement.
Baldwin, 63, expressed “shock and sadness over the tragic accident” that killed Hutchins on Friday. In a post on her social media accounts, she said that her “heart is broken for her husband, her son, and everyone who knew and loved Halyna.”
The International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees (IATSE) said in a statement that it was devastated to learn of the death of Hutchins, who was a member of the union.
Representatives for Hutchins in a statement said they “hope this tragedy will reveal new lessons on how to better ensure the safety of each crew member on set.”
Hutchins, 42, who was originally from Ukraine, was named one of the rising stars of the 2019 American cinematographer. Her latest social media post, two days ago, shows her smiling under a wide-brimmed hat as ride a horse. “One of the advantages of filming a western is that you can ride a horse on your day off :),” he captioned the video.
Baldwin, known for his impersonations of former United States President Donald Trump on the sketch show “Saturday Night Live,” has appeared in more than 100 film and television comedies and dramas, and won Emmy Awards for his role as the selfish executive of a TV station satire on “30 Rock.”
The accident renewed the debate over whether certain types of prop guns should be banned from television and movie sets.
Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died at age 28 after being fatally injured in 1993 by a prop pistol in an accident on set while filming “The Crow.”
“I don’t understand why we would continue to use blank rounds on a day where they could be simulated,” independent film director and producer Ben Rock told Reuters on Friday.