Alec Baldwin given loaded prop gun by assistant director who indicated it was safe, court records show

Entertainment

Alec Baldwin was handed a loaded prop gun by an assistant director who indicated it was safe to use, moments before the actor fatally shot his crew member, according to court documents.

The assistant director yelled “cold gun” before handing him the firearm on the set of the Western film Rust, a search warrant filed in a Sante Fe court showed.

He did not know the weapon was loaded with live rounds.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot in the chest, while director Joel Souza was wounded.

Investigators obtained the warrant on Friday to document the scene where the incident took place.

The weapon that was fired was taken as evidence, along with Baldwin’s blood-stained costume for the film.

Investigators also seized prop guns and ammunition that were being used on the set.

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Earlier Baldwin said he was devasted by the incident, saying on Twitter: “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother, and deeply admired colleague of ours.

“I’m fully co-operating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family.

“My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

The company behind filming, Rust Movie Productions, said in a statement it would conduct a review of procedures after the LA Times reported at least one prop gun had previously misfired and some crew members had walked off set.

The statement said: “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”

Alec Baldwin’s daughter, Ireland, said she wished she could hug her dad “extra tight” following the incident.

Writing on Instagram, she said: “My love and support go to Halyna Hutchins’ family and friends. Sending healing thoughts to Joel Souza. And wishing I could hug my dad extra tight today.”

Ms Hutchins was taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital but later pronounced dead.

Mr Souza was taken by ambulance to Christus St Vincent Regional Medical Center, but has since been discharged, actress Frances Fisher said.

Innovative Artists, who represented Ms Hutchins, called her an immensely talented “a ray of light” who was “always smiling, always hopeful”.

“All those in her orbit knew what was coming; a star director of photography, who would be a force to be reckoned with,” they added.

Baldwin was later seen on Thursday outside the sheriff’s office in tears. Detectives said he willingly provided a statement.

Juan Rios, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said: “This investigation remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”

Rust, which was due to keep filming until November, is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother after his parents’ death in 1800s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database.

The film’s production has been halted and the company making the film said it is providing counselling services to everyone connected with it.

A former army officer and firearms instructor said: “A thought should be spared also for the actor who discharged the firearm because that is something he’s going to have to live with for the rest of his life – when these things happen they are awful.”

Hutchins was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer magazine in 2019 and was director of photography on the 2020 action film Archenemy, starring Joe Manganiello.

“I’m so sad about losing Halyna,” said Archenemy director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter.

“And so infuriated that this could happen on a set.

“She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”

Manganiello said he was lucky to have Hutchins as director of photography on the film.

American filmmaker Elle Schneider wrote on Twitter: “Sick and devastated to hear that my friend and rockstar cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on set today in New Mexico.

“I don’t have words to describe this tragedy. I want answers. I want her family to somehow find peace among this horrific, horrific loss.

“Halyna was shooting the Western RUST when she died. Women cinematographers have historically been kept from genre film, and it seems especially cruel that one of the rising stars who was able to break through had her life cut short on the kind of project we’ve been fighting for.”

The incident has been compared with the death of Brandon Lee, son of the late martial arts star Bruce Lee, who died while filming a death scene for the movie The Crow in 1993 when he was 28 years old.

The .44-calibre weapon used was supposed to fire a blank but an autopsy revealed a bullet lodged near his spine.

A Twitter account run by Lee’s sister Shannon said: “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.”

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