Alec Baldwin fires prop gun on ‘Rust’ movie set, killing woman, sheriff says
SANTA FE, N.M. - Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the movie set of "Rust" in New Mexico, killing the cinematographer and wounding the director, authorities said. Officials are now investigating what happened.
Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer on the movie "Rust," and director Joel Souza were shot Thursday afternoon on the rustic film set in the desert on the southern outskirts of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s officials said.
A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks, though a charge without a metal projectile is unlikely to kill at a moderate distance. Sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said detectives were investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.
Production was halted on the film.
"We have a- two people have been shot accidentally," a person can be heard telling dispatchers in the 911 call obtained by FOX News.
RELATED: What is a prop gun? On-set deaths involving them have happened before
Baldwin, 63, was spotted outside the sheriff’s office on Thursday in tears, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. On Friday, the actor said in a Twitter statement that there were "no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident" and that his "heart is broken" for Hutchins’ husband and son.
Prop guns fire blanks, gunpowder charges that produce a flash and a bang but not a hard projectile. But when the trigger is pulled, the paper or plastic wadding is ejected from the barrel with enough force that it can be lethal at close range, as proved to be the case in the death of an actor in 1984. In another on-set accident in 1993, the actor son of martial arts star Bruce Lee was killed after a bullet was left in a prop gun.
Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel, the sheriff's department said.
Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for his injuries. "Rust" co-star Frances Fisher tweeted early Friday that Souza had been released.
The International Cinematographers Guild confirmed that the woman fatally shot was Hutchins, a cinematographer.
"The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event," guild president John Lindley and executive director Rebecca Rhine said in a statement.
Hutchins, a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute, worked as director of photography on the 2020 action film "Archenemy," starring Joe Manganiello. She was named a "rising star" by American Cinematographer in 2019.
"I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set," said "Archenemy" director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter. "She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film."
"I was lucky to have known her and to have worked with her," Mortimer added.
Film colleague Manganiello called her "an incredible talent" and "a great person" on his Instagram account. He said he was lucky to have worked with Hutchins.
"She had such an eye and a visual style, she was the kind of cinematographer that you wanted to see succeed because you wanted to see what she could pull off next. She was a fantastic person. There was no amount of pressure she couldn’t handle," Manganiello wrote. "I can’t believe that this could happen in this day and age… gunfire from a prop gun could kill a crew member? This is a horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to her family and especially to her son."
Baldwin teamed up as a producer previously with Souza on the 2019 film, "Crown Vic," which starred Thomas Jane as a veteran Los Angeles police officer on a manhunt for two violent bank robbers. His first credited film, 2010’s "Hanna’s Gold," was a treasure hunt adventure featuring Luke Perry.
Sheriff's deputies responded about 2 p.m. to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls described a person being shot on set, said Rios, the sheriff’s spokesman. The ranch has been used in dozens of films, including the recent Tom Hanks Western "News of the World."
"This investigation remains open and active," Rios said in a statement. "No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives."
Hamptons International Film Festival Chairman, Alec Baldwin attends the World Premiere of National Geographic Documentary Films' 'The First Wave' at Hamptons International Film Festival on October 07, 2021 in East Hampton, New York.
Filming for "Rust" had been set to continue into early November, according to a news release from the New Mexico Film Office.
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.
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.
"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," a Twitter account run by Lee's sister Shannon wrote.
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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.