Actor Alec Baldwin was practicing holstering a revolver and aiming at the camera during a rehearsal for Rust, when director Joel Sousa heard “a sound like a whip and then a loud bang,” according to a search warrant obtained by the Los Angeles Times, which also provided dark details about the final moments of cinematographer Galina Hutchins’ life.
Souza said someone identified the weapon as a “melee weapon,” meaning it had no live ammunition, according to a warrant filed by a detective at the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. But instead the pistol fired, hitting Hutchins in her chest and Sousa in his right shoulder. Hutchins was pronounced dead at Albuquerque Hospital.
Souza’s statement to the detective opened a new window into the set on Thursday, which left Hollywood reeling and demanding a safer work environment on set.
Filming came after six crew members left the set after complaining to the production company about payment and housing, cinematographer Reed Russell told Det. Joel Cano, per search warrant. The document offers a more detailed chronology of the unfolding tragedy.
The day started late because the film crew hired another film crew and only worked with one camera, Sousa told the detective.
Souza said three people handled the gun at the scene: gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed, then assistant director Dave Halls, who, according to the warrant, handed the gun over to Baldwin.
The warrant said Halls took one of three propellers installed by Gutierrez Reed on a cart left outside the building due to COVID-19 restrictions. Halls was unaware that there were live ammunition in the gun when he passed it to Baldwin, and Halls shouted “cold steel” for the search warrant.
Souza said the cast and crew prepared the scene before lunchtime, but then had lunch away from the rehearsal area around 12:30 pm, according to a search warrant. When they returned, Souza said he was not sure if the weapons were checked again, the warrant says.
“As far as he knows, Joel said no one is checked for live ammunition before and after the scenes are filmed,” the search warrant says. “Only firearms are checked so that there are no live ammunition in them. Joel said that in no case should there be live ammunition near the scene. ”
When they returned from lunch, the creeping shadow caused the camera to be moved at a different angle, Russell said on the search warrant. According to Russell, when Baldwin was explaining how he was going to draw the pistol and where his hand would be when he pulled the pistol out of its holster, it was discharged.
Sousa said he looked over Hutchins’ shoulder when he fired. Hutchins grabbed her stomach, staggered back and “fell to the ground,” Sousa told the detective.
The search warrant said Reed remembered hearing a loud bang, seeing Sousa bloody, and hearing Hutchins say she couldn’t feel her legs.
The accident occurred after crew members raised concerns about the safety conditions on set. Two crew members of the Rust told the LA Times that less than a week earlier, the stuntman had fired two accidental rounds from a screw gun after being told the gun was “cold.”
Rust Movie Productions said in a statement that the safety of the cast and crew is a “top priority,” and the company was unaware of formal weapons safety complaints and would conduct an internal review. On Sunday, the production company said it would halt production of the film while the investigation was in progress, but did not rule out resuming it.
Hutchins’ death follows other accidents on television and in movies. Some in Hollywood and the wider community have called for kits to no longer have valid firearms, especially since muzzle fire could be added through post-production. A California state senator announced plans to propose legislation to ban live ammunition and firearms capable of firing live ammunition in Hollywood productions in California.