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Alec Baldwin 'Discharged' Prop Gun On Set Of Western Film 'Rust,' Killing Cinematographer And Injuring Director, Authorities Say
Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography died in the mishap and Joel Souza was injured, as authorities try to piece together what went wrong.
Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of the western film “Rust” that killed the film’s cinematographer and injured the director Joel Souza, authorities said.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins was killed Thursday when Baldwin, an actor and producer on the film, “discharged” the prop firearm on the New Mexico set.
“Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement obtained by The New York Post.
Hutchins was rushed to hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she later died. Joel Souza, the 48-year-old director, was also hospitalized, although the extent of his injuries is unknown.
Actress Frances Fisher tweeted early Friday that Souza had been released from the hospital.
Baldwin was seen in tears in the parking lot outside the sheriff’s office—where he willingly provided a statement to investigators—talking on the phone and bent over with his hands on his knees, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican.
"There was an accident today on the New Mexico set of Rust involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks," a spokesperson for Baldwin said in a statement to NBC News. "Production has been halted for the time being. The safety of our cast and crew remains our top priority."
No charges have been filed in the case and authorities said the investigation is ongoing.
Just one day before she was killed, Hutchins posted a video on Instagram of herself wearing a cowboy hat and riding a horse.
“One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off,” she wrote alongside a smiley face.
Hutchins, a Los-Angeles-based cinematographer from Ukraine, also posted a photo of the cast and crew on the set of the film.
Before becoming a cinematographer, she earned a degree in international journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine and had worked as an investigative journalist, according to her website.
She graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015 and would go on to work on feature films including “Archenemy” starring Joe Manganiello, “Blindfire,” and the horror film “Darlin’.”
In a statement to Deadline, John Lindley, the Cinematographers Guild’s national president and Rebecca Rhine, the national executive director, called her death a “terrible loss” for the film community.
“We’ve received the devastating news this evening, that one of our members, Haylna Hutchins, the Director of Photography on a production called Rust in New Mexico died from injuries sustained on the set,” they wrote. “The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event.”
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland also released a statement after the tragedy.
“We are devastated by this tragic news. Our hearts go out to the family of Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins who passed away, and to Director Joel Souza who is injured and hospitalized,” they wrote. “This is still an active investigation and we do not yet have all the facts. We will continue to work with production, the other unions, and the authorities to investigate this incident and to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again.”
This is not the first time the use of a prop gun has turned deadly. Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died on the set of “The Crow” after a piece of slug from a prop gun lodged into his spine, Deadline reports.
Actor Jon-Erik Hexum was also killed in October of 1984 on the set of the TV series “Cover Up” when he accidentally shot himself with a gun firing blanks.
Baldwin stars as the title character in “Rust,” which follows the story of an outlaw named Harland Rust in the 1880s who breaks his 13-year-old grandson out of prison after the teen is convicted of an accidental murder and sentenced to death.