Alec Baldwin was practicing a stunt when a prop gun he was holding fired and killed 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured Director Joel Souza on the set of the movie Rust, according to affidavits for search warrants released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.
The new documents, based on interviews between sheriff detectives and several members of the film’s crew, offer the most complete accounting so far of Thursday’s shooting in New Mexico.
According to the documents, Baldwin was sitting in a church pew on the set of the film while rehearsing a scene that involved drawing a revolver and pointing it at the camera. Hutchins and Souza were viewing the camera angle, Souza told detectives. Souza, who was shot in the shoulder, was standing behind Hutchins.
The director heard what sounded like a loud pop
It was then that Souza said he heard “what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop” when the gun went off, according to the documents.
When the gun was discharged, he says he recalled Hutchins grabbing her midsection and then stumbling before being helped to the ground. He told detectives she said she couldn’t feel her legs.
Hutchins, who was 42, was helped by medics on scene and was then transported to University of New Mexico Hospital by helicopter, where she later died.
The day started with a camera crew quitting the movie
Souza told authorities the workday on set usually started at 6:30 a.m. On Thursday, though, there was a delayed start because a camera crew had quit. With a new crew coming in, they had only one camera with which to work.
At around 12:30 p.m., the crew departed for lunch. The prop weapons were checked before lunch, Souza said, but he wasn’t sure if they were checked when the crew came back.
Souza noted that three people would typically handle guns on set. Firearms would first be checked by the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, before being checked by Assistant Director Dave Halls, who would then give a firearm to an actor for his or her scene.
According to the documents, Souza said that as far as he knew, no one was checked for live ammunition on their person; it’s just the weapons that are inspected to make sure there are no live rounds.
Souza said he remembered hearing someone yell, “Cold gun,” which means the gun was not supposed to have any live ammunition.
Halls, according to documents, was the one who yelled, “Cold gun” before handing the weapon to Baldwin. Halls told a detective investigating that he was not aware the weapon had live ammunition.
A cameraman said Baldwin was careful with weapons
Reid Russell, a cameraman who was standing near Hutchins and Souza, said that when the gun was discharged, Baldwin was in the middle of explaining how he was going to draw the weapon for the scene, according to the documents. The film crew was apparently still setting up for the scene, so no one was recording.
Russell also noted that in prior scenes, Baldwin had been especially careful with handling weapons, making sure there wasn’t a child nearby when he was discharging a gun.