Alec Baldwin Prop Gun Malfunction Leaves Cinematographer Dead

Sidra Smith and Halyna Hutchins
Sidra Smith and Halyna Hutchins
Courtesy Sidra Smith

Amagansett resident Alec Baldwin was at the center of a tragic accident on the set of the film Rust yesterday, October 21, leading to the death of Halyna Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer. Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured after a prop gun Baldwin—the film’s star and producer—was using accidentally misfired a projectile instead of a blank at Rust’s Bonanza Creek Ranch set in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

According to reports, Baldwin appeared “shaken” following the incident. Authorities responded to the scene around 1:50 p.m. local time following 911 calls indicating “an individual had been shot on set,” according to a Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department press release obtained by People.

Baldwin shared his heartbreak in a two-part tweet on Friday morning. “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 cooperating 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.”

Upon further investigation, the sheriff’s department learned that Hutchins, 42, and Souza, 48, were “shot when a prop firearm was discharged” by Baldwin. The film set has since been shut down, with production indefinitely paused, according to the film’s production company. Souza was treated for his injury and released from Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe.

Earlier in the day, a spokesperson for Baldwin told People that “there was an accident today on the New Mexico set of Rust involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks. “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,” Rust Movie Production LLC said in a statement. “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 counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”

IndieWire reports that IATSE Local 44, the entertainment craft persons union, including prop masters, emailed its members on Friday morning noting that “a live round” was loaded in the gun from the scene, and Rust‘s propmaster was not among their membership.

No charges have been filed and authorities are still investigating.

This is not the first time tragedy has struck in Hollywood due to a prop gun misfiring. Rising star Brandon Lee, the son of legend Bruce Lee, was killed while filming The Crow in 1993 when a mishandled prop gun fired a blank, which launched a dummy bullet that had been lodged in the barrel and not properly cleared.

Hutchins was filmmaker Sidra Smith’s cinematographer. Smith posted on Facebook, “This breaks my heart into pieces. We spoke when she was headed to shoot this film. She was so happy and I was so happy for her. It’s hard out here for women cinematographers and this was a HUGE opportunity for her. She was so young and talented. She was so beautifully gracious and words cannot express how supportive she was to me. Halyna had a beautiful son and husband. God bless her beautiful heart and soul. Rest in peace, my beautiful sister. I will be forever grateful to you.”

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