Alec Baldwin was practicing drawing and pointing gun when it discharged on 'Rust' set
Alec Baldwin was "practicing" with the gun on the New Mexico set of Rust when it went off.
New information about the incident — which caused the death of the film’s director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and injured director Joel Souza — has been detailed in search warrants executed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's office and obtained by Yahoo Entertainment.
Souza said they were setting up a shot that required Baldwin, who plays an outlaw in the film, to cross-draw the weapon and point it at the camera. While demonstrating what he would do, the gun, which wasn't supposed to be loaded, went off, the warrant states.
"Joel advised they returned back to the set after lunch, although he is not sure if the firearm was checked again," the document says. "Joel stated they had Alec sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw. Joel said he was looking over the shoulder of [Hutchins], when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop."
Souza said Hutchins grabbed "her midsection" and "began to stumble backwards." She was "assisted to the ground" and an on-set medic was summoned. Souza said he was "was bleeding from his shoulder and he could see blood on [Hutchins]."
Cameraman Reid Russell recalled Hutchins saying she could not feel her legs. She was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she was later pronounced dead. Souza was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe to be treated for a wound near his right shoulder and has since been released.
According to the warrant, Russell said the accidental shooting was not captured on camera because they were still setting up. A shadow coming into the church structure from the light outside meant the camera had to be adjusted. During that time, Baldwin was working with the director and the cinematographer on how he would play the scene.
"Reid said Alec," who's also a producer on the film, "had been very careful, and brought up an instance when a scene was being filmed earlier," the warrant stated. "Reid said Alec had made sure it was safe and that a child wasn't near him when they were discharging a firearm during that scene."
Souza told authorities that three people handled the gun for the scene. That also included armorer Hanna Gutierrez-Reed, who had the prop guns on a cart outside where they were filming due to COVID-19 restrictions, and assistant director David Halls, who handed one of the guns to Baldwin.
A previous search warrant stated that Baldwin fired the gun only after Halls announced it was a "cold gun," meaning it wasn't supposed to have any live rounds in it.
A TMZ report over the weekend claimed — though is unverified — that the same gun in the accident was used during off-set target practice.
The gun had also reportedly misfired before, according to NBC News. That was part of the reason behind several members of the crew walking off the set because of safety concerns — just hours before the fatal accident.
The Associated Press reported Monday that Halls was fired from the 2019 production of the movie Freedom's Path, according to a producer who wished to remain anonymous, after a gun on that set was "unexpectedly discharged," and a crew member was injured.
The film has been shut down pending investigation findings. The sheriff's office said it will hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss the investigation. The production is doing its own internal review, amid claims of unsafe conditions by other crew members.
There have been many new statements amid the tragedy that has left Baldwin distraught. Rust chief electrician Serge Svetnoy used Facebook to publicly blame the film’s armorer and producers for the "negligence" that led to Hutchins's death.
"It's the fault of negligence and unprofessionalism," he wrote. "The negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it. And the DEATH OF THE HUMAN IS THE RESULT!"
Maggie Goll, a prop master who worked with Halls on a past production, claimed he previously allowed an unsafe working environment on Hulu's Into the Dark in 2019. She said he "did not maintain a safe working environment. Sets were almost always allowed to become increasingly claustrophobic, no established fire lanes, exits blocked ... safety meetings were nonexistent." She claims Halls also attempted to keep filming after the lead pyrotechnician had suffered a medical emergency and the set had become unsafe.
Following a statement from Baldwin last week, his wife Hilaria made her first comments about the tragedy.
"My heart is with Halyna. Her husband. Her son. Their family and loved ones. And my Alec," she wrote. "It's said, 'There are no words' because it's impossible to express the shock and heartache of such a tragic accident. Heartbreak. Loss. Support."
Rust cast member Jensen Ackles has spoken out too.
Over the weekend, Hutchins's husband — who was photographed spending time with Baldwin — shared tributes as well.
Thank you to Halyna's friends and mentors at AFI for establishing a scholarship to honor her memory and support aspiring female cinematographers. Anyone seeking to honor her memory, please direct your giving to this fund. https://t.co/I5ci67uleU
— Matt Hutchins (@mhutchins) October 23, 2021
Halyna inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words. Our loss is enormous, and we ask that the media please respect my family’s privacy as we process our grief. We thank everyone for sharing images and stories of her life. pic.twitter.com/LgEp4XVkja
— Matt Hutchins (@mhutchins) October 23, 2021
Souza, who was released from the hospital Friday, issued a statement saying he's "gutted by the loss of my friend and colleague, Halyna. She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch, and always pushed me to be better.”
He said his thoughts are with Hutchins's family "at this most difficult time. I am humbled and grateful by the outpouring of affection we have received from our filmmaking community, the people of Santa Fe, and the hundreds of strangers who have reached out… It will surely aid in my recovery."
Meanwhile, the film's production company, Rust Movies Production, LLC, sent a letter to its cast and crew urging them not to speak to the media.
"Joel Souza is recovering, and we are supporting him however we can knowing just how difficult his journey is," the letter, not signed by any individuals, said, according to NBC News.
"We are sorry to hear that so many of you are receiving unsolicited contacts from the media while all of us need time and space to grieve and heal. You don’t need to engage, but if you do, just ask the journalists to respect your privacy. It should help," it said.
Producers said they are cooperating with investigators and were offering counseling to staff.
Hutchins was memorialized Sunday night during a candlelight vigil hosted by International Cinematographers Guild 600 at the Burbank headquarters of IATSE Local 80. The "extraordinary young woman" was celebrated, but the senselessness of the tragedy was noted.
There will be plenty of time for "who, what, why," said Rebecca Rhine, national executive director of Local 600. "We all stand together at this moment in grief and disbelief and what we do with that will define us and define this moment."
— Reporting by Raechal Shewfelt