Prop gun fired by US actor Alec Baldwin on film set kills cinematographer, injures director

Prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin on film set kills cinematographer, injures director
US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement officers said October 21, 2021. Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP

Santa Fe: US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza on a film set in New Mexico on Thursday.

The incident happened on the set of 'Rust', where Baldwin is playing the lead in a 19th-century western.

A spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office said cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, was killed, and the director Joel Souza, 48, was injured around 1:50 pm on the set of the film on Thursday.

"Mr Baldwin was questioned by investigators and released. No arrests or charges have been filed. This investigation remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives," a Santa Fe Sheriff's Department official told the publication.

Hutchins was transported, via helicopter, to University of New Mexico Hospital where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel, while Souza was transported by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical center where he is undergoing treatment for his injuries.

It was not immediately known how serious Souza's injuries were.

According to investigators, it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged, sheriff's spokesman Juan Rios told the Albuquerque Journal. Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.

Deputies responded about 2 pm to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls came in of a person being shot on set, Rios said.

Production halted

In a statement Rust Movies Productions LLC, the banner behind the movie, has expressed their condolences to Halyna's family and loved ones.

"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," said the banner's spokesperson. 

Production has been halted on the Western movie 'Rust', which is being directed by Joel Souza with Alec Baldwin producing and starring in it.

"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 counselling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event," the statement continued.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Baldwin was seen Thursday outside the sheriff's office in tears, but attempts to get a comment from him were unsuccessful.

Filming for 'Rust' was set to continue into early November, according to a news release from the New Mexico Film Office.

The movie is about an accidental killing

The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.

Most recently famous for his impersonations of former US President Donald Trump on NBC's comedy sketch show "Saturday Night Live," Baldwin has a long history in film and television, including roles in "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "30 Rock."

Originally from Ukraine, Hutchins once worked as an investigative reporter in Europe. She graduated from the American Film Institute in 2015 and was selected as one of American Cinematographer's Rising Stars of 2019, according to her website biography

Her last Instagram post, two days ago, was a video of her riding on a horse, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. "One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off:)" she said in the post.

April Wright, a writer, director, and producer, paid tribute to Hutchins on Facebook.

"I'm in disbelief," wrote Wright. "So young, vibrant, and talented. Such a wonderful soul. My heart goes out to her son and family."

Previous incidents

In 1993, Brandon Lee, 28, son of the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee, died after being hit by a .44-caliber slug while filming a death scene for the movie 'The Crow'. The gun was supposed to have fired a blank, but an autopsy turned up a bullet lodged near his spine.

In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum on the set of the television series 'Cover Up'.

(With PTI, AP and Reuters inputs)

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