UPDATED with more law enforcement information: The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department confirmed Thursday night that Alec Baldwin “discharged” the prop gun that killed Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza on the set of the Western feature film on location in New Mexico.
Hutchins, 42, died not long after being transported to a hospital in Albuquerque, NM this afternoon. Souza, 48, remains in a local hospital; his condition is unknown.
“Mr. Baldwin was questioned by investigators and released,” a Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department official told Deadline this evening. “No arrests or charges have been filed.”
Here’s the full statement from the Santa Fe Sheriff’s department:
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set of the western “Rust”, October 21, 2021, when an 911 caller reported a shooting on the set.
The sheriff’s office confirms that two individuals were shot on the set of Rust. Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 68, producer and actor.
Ms. Hutchins was transported, via helicopter, to University of New Mexico Hospital where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel. Mr. Souza was transported by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical center where he is undergoing treatment for his injuries.
This investigation remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.
Deadline earlier reported that Criminal Investigators were called to the scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch just outside Santa Fe as sources informing us that a principal castmember cocked a gun, hitting Souza, 48 and Hutchins, 42, on set. The entire location went under lockdown during the investigation. The castmember, now identified as Baldwin, was unaware of the type of ammunition in the gun, we’re told. A rep from the production said that “Production has been halted for the time being” on Rust and that “the safety of our cast and crew remains our top priority.”
Traditionally, the prop master or armorer is responsible for fire arms and fire arms safety on a set such as Rust.
As information about Hutchins’ death emerged, the Cinematographers Guild expressed shock and remorse.
“We received the devastating news this evening, that one of our members, Halyna Hutchins, the Director of Photography on a production called Rust in New Mexico died from injuries sustained on the set,” said the Cinematographers Guild’s National President, John Lindley, and National Executive Director, Rebecca Rhine tonight.
“The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event,” added the guild executives.
“This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our Guild’s family.”
Said president Lesli Linka Glatter of the Directors Guild, which counts Souza as a member: “The DGA is incredibly saddened to hear of the tragic passing of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and the serious injuries sustained by DGA director Joel Souza in an on-set incident in New Mexico today. We await further details and a full investigation. Our hearts go out to Halyna’s family, to Joel, and to everyone impacted.”
Said SAG-AFTRA in a statement from president Fran Drescher and national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland: “We are devastated by this tragic news. Our hearts go out to the family of Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins who has passed away, and to Director Joel Souza who is injured and hospitalized. 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 isn’t the first time an on-set death has been caused by a gun firing blanks. Actor Jon-Erik Hexum was killed on October 18, 1984, on the set of the TV series Cover Up when he accidentally shot himself in the head with a gun loaded with blanks. And in 1993, Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died after a piece of a slug was lodged in his spine from a prop gun fired on the set of The Crow by another actor. Both incidents were determined to have been accidents.
The very first safety bulletin adopted by the Industrywide Labor-Management Safety Committee dealt with the dangers of blank ammunition. “Blanks can kill,” the bulletin says. “Treat all firearms as though they are loaded.”
Hutchins is an AFI graduate from the class of 2015 whose work includes several shorts and the lensing the feature Archenemy starring Joe Manganiello. She was named “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019.
Earlier this week, Hutchins posted photos on her Facebook from the set; “Our IATSE solidarity stand on Rust“
Rust stars Baldwin and was written and directed by Souza. Travis Fimmel, Brady Noon, Frances Fisher and Jensen Ackles also star. Souza and Baldwin wrote the story.
The film’s plot centers on Harland Rust (Baldwin), an infamous Western outlaw who has had a bounty on his head for as long as he can remember. When his estranged 13-year-old grandson Lucas (Noon) is convicted of an accidental murder and sentenced to hang, Rust travels to Kansas to break him out of prison. Together, the two fugitives must outrun the legendary U.S. Marshal Wood Helm (Ackles) and bounty-hunter Fenton “Preacher” Lang (Fimmel) who are hot on their tail. Deeply buried secrets rise from the ashes and an unexpected familial bond begins to form as the mismatched duo tries to survive the merciless American Frontier.
CAA Media Finance is handling domestic sales for the pic, with Highland Film Group repping international.
Baldwin is also producing under his El Dorado Pictures banner along with Matt DelPiano through his Cavalry Media, Ryan Donnell Smith through Thomasville Pictures, Anjul Nigam of Brittany House Pictures and Ryan Winterstern and Nathan Klingher of Short Porch Pictures. Allen Cheney, Emily Hunter Salveson, Christopher M.B. Sharp, and Jennifer E. Lamb are EPs. BondIt Media Capital and Hunter Salveson and Donnell Smith’s Streamline Global are financing.
David Robb contributed to this report.