ALBUQUERQUE — Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved pointing a revolver “towards the camera lens” when the gun — which the crew had been told did not contain live rounds — suddenly went off and killed the cinematographer, according to the film’s director, who was quoted in an affidavit released Sunday night.
Joel Souza was the film’s filmmaker. He described hearing what “sounded almost like a whip followed by loud pop.”
The account by Mr. Souza explained why Mr. Baldwin had been pointing the gun at the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. But, it did not answer her question on how a gun with no live ammunition ended-up killing her.
According to the director, who sustained injuries during shooting, he told investigators that he believed that his gun was safe. It had been described as “cold gun” by firearm safety announcements. He claimed that guns set up for the film were usually checked by Hannah Gutierrez Reed the film’s armored and then checked again in the hands of Dave Halls, the assistant direct, who would then give them to actors.
Many armorers in this industry explained that on film sets, the sequence of who handles a weapon is very important. Mr. Gutierrez-Reed and Halls handed weapons to actors on the set. According to a Rust producer, who did not want to be named due to the ongoing investigation, Halls was given weapons by Mr.
After preparing for the scene in the church’s set, Mr. Souza said that there was a lunch break and that the crew was taken to eat elsewhere. He stated that they went back to the set after lunch, but that he wasn’t sure if the firearm had been checked again.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office published the affidavit to obtain a warrant for search. This provided new details that provide the best account yet of Thursday’s deadly shooting.
Mr. Baldwin had been sitting in a wooden church pew, rehearsing a scene that involved “cross drawing” a revolver and pointing it at the camera lens, Mr. Souza said, according to the affidavit. Mr. Souza stated that he had been “viewing the camera angle” while standing alongside Ms. Hutchins.
Mr. Souza noticed Ms. Hutchins grab her midsection, and began to fall backwards. Then he noticed he was bleeding from his shoulder.
Detective Joel Cano’s application for a search order to seize everything (camera memory cards, bone fragments, firearms discharge) provides a chilling account regarding the fatal shooting. The set had been plagued with accidental gun shots and labor disputes among crew members. (The warrant was issued.
Detective Cano described in the affidavit how he had interviewed Mr. Souza after the director was treated for his injuries. Ms. Hutchins was shot to the chest. She had been declared dead by the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque on Thursday.
What happened to the Set “Rust?”
Detective Cano wrote that Joel had stated that no live rounds should be allowed near or around any scene.
The day of shooting Mr. Souza faced delays due to six members of his camera crew quitting over late pay and safety issues. The labor issues caused delays in the production, so another crew was hired quickly. Mr. Souza claimed that there was only one camera available for recording the footage before the shooting.
When asked about the behavior of employees, Mr. Souza stated that everyone was “getting along” and that there had not been any “altercations”.
Also included in the affidavit are notes from Reid Russell’s interview, which was conducted near Ms. Hutchins as well as Mr. Souza at the time of the gun’s discharge.
The detective was told by Mr. Russell that he had returned from lunch and walked outside for approximately five minutes. When he returned to the scene, according to the affidavit Mr. Baldwin, Ms. Hutchins, and Mr. Souza had already set up the scene and were “in possession” of the firearm. Mr. Russell stated that he wasn’t sure if the firearm was inspected as he had not been there for five minutes.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Halls grabbed Mr. Gutierrez-Reed’s grey, two-tiered tray and took the revolver. Mr. Halls handed Mr. Baldwin the gun and shouted, ‘cold gun’. This is usually a reference to an empty firearm on a film set.
Crew had to reposition camera after a shadow appeared while setting up scene. Mister Russell explained to the detective that Mr. Baldwin was explaining the process of drawing the gun and then taking it out of the holster.
Mr. Russell said that Mr. Baldwin had been “very careful” with the firearm; during an earlier scene, Mr. Russell said, Mr. Baldwin had tried to ensure safety on set, making sure that a child wasn’t near him when he was discharging the gun. Asked about how members of the production team were behaving as they set up the scene, he said “everyone seemed to be getting along.”
Mr. Souza, the director, told the detective that because the crew had been setting up the scene when the gun discharged, the incident had not been filmed.
After the gun was fired, Mr. Russell said to the detective that he remembered Joel getting blood on his body, and Ms. Hutchins talking and saying that she couldn’t feel her legs.
Hilaria Baldwin, the wife of Mr. Baldwin, posted an Instagram post Monday morning. She expressed her support for Ms. Hutchins and for Mr. Baldwin. She wrote that it was difficult to express the shock, heartache, and sadness caused by such a tragic accident.
Graham Bowley contributed reporting.