Law enforcement in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, plan to hold a press conference Wednesday on their investigation into what happened last week when actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing on a film set with a gun that he had been told did not contain live ammunition when it exploded, killing the film’s cinematographer and injuring its director.
Here’s a look at what emerged from the case:
The shooting occurred during a rehearsal of a scene from “Rust”, a western where Mr. Baldwin played the role of an outlaw helping his grandson. Mr Baldwin was holding a weapon used as a prop as she fired, hitting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest and director Joel Souza in the shoulder. Ms Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to an Albuquerque hospital, where she died. Mr Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Santa Fe and was released on Friday.
In an affidavit accompanying a search warrant application, Detective Joel Cano of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said Dave Halls, an assistant director on set, got out and pulled the gun out of a cart, where it was placed by the film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Mr Halls handed it to Mr Baldwin, who was rehearsing indoors on a church set, according to the affidavit, and said it was a “cold gun”, indicating that it did not contain live ammunition and that it was safe for Mr. Baldwin. to manage.
Mr. Baldwin cooperated with the investigation, including going to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office after the shooting to make a statement and answer questions. No criminal charges against him or anyone else have been announced in this case.
When the shooting occurred, Mr Baldwin was sitting on a wooden church pew, rehearsing a scene that involved ‘crossing’ a gun and pointing it at the camera lens, Mr Souza said. , according to the affidavit. The director said he heard what “sounded like a whip, then a loud bang,” then saw Ms Hutchins grab her abdomen and start to stumble back. Then he noticed he was bleeding from his shoulder.
The Santa Fe County District Attorney said Tuesday she was not ruling out criminal charges in last week’s fatal shooting.
“We haven’t ruled out anything,” District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a telephone interview. “Everything at this point, including the criminal charges, is on the table.”
Ms Carmack-Altwies said the investigation was focusing on ballistics in an attempt to determine what type of cartridge was in the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins – and who placed the ammunition in the ‘armed.
“There was a huge amount of balls on this set, and we have to find out what type it was,” Ms Carmack-Altwies said.
Detectives are still interviewing people who were on the set, Ms Carmack-Altwies said. “It’s probably weeks, if not months, of a follow-up investigation that we’ll need to get to the point of charge.”
Ms Carmack-Altwies took issue with descriptions of the firearm used in the incident as an ‘auxiliary firearm’, saying the terminology, which is used in some of the court documents related to the case, could give the deceptive impression that she was not a real weapon.
“It was a legitimate weapon,” she said, without specifically naming the type of firearm used. “It was an appropriate weapon in ancient times.”
Ms Carmack-Altwies said she was aware of press reports suggesting crew members used live ammunition guns to practice target practice hours before the fatal shooting, but said that the reports were “unconfirmed”.
Ms. Carmack-Altwies described the case as one of the most difficult in Santa Fe County in recent memory.
“We have complex cases all the time,” she said. “But that kind of complex case, with those kinds of eminent people, no.”
Shortly before cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was gunned down on a set in the New Mexico foothills, she smiled as she recorded herself riding a chestnut horse through the desert scrub.
“One of the perks of shooting a western is that you can ride a horse on your day off,” Hutchins wrote last week in an Instagram post.
Ms Hutchins, 42, was killed on Thursday when the gun with which actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing on the set of “Rust”, which he had been told did not contain live ammunition, exploded . Ms Hutchins, who was the director of photography for the film, was shot in the chest and died after being airlifted to the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque. The director of the film, Joel Souza, was injured in the shooting and was released from the hospital.
Mr Souza said in a statement on Saturday that he was “gutted” by the loss of Ms Hutchins, writing that she was “kind, dynamic, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better”.
Ms Hutchins’ husband Matt Hutchins wrote in a tweet Friday night that his wife “has inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too significant to be summed up in words.”
Ms Hutchins grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle, where, according to her personal website, she was “surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines.” She studied economics at the Agrarian University of Ukraine before taking a journalism program at Kyiv National University. She then attended the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles.
Mr Baldwin posted a statement on social media on Friday saying: ‘There are no words to express my shock and sadness over the tragic accident which claimed the life of Halyna Hutchins, wife, mother and a deeply admired colleague. He said he was in touch with Ms Hutchins’ husband, adding: “My heart is broken for her husband, their son and everyone who knew and loved Halyna.”
Among filmmakers in the United States, Ms. Hutchins is remembered as a skilled filmmaker with an artistic vision that was deeply committed to her work.
Adam Egypt Mortimer, the director of the 2020 superhero action film ‘Archenemy’, on which Ms. Hutchins worked as cinematographer, wrote on Twitter that Ms. Hutchins was a “brilliant talent”, emphasizing to a series of messages he did last year on the work of Mrs. Hutchins. He had written that “Ms. Hutchins’ tastes and sensibility for cinematography was a huge asset in executing our style” and that she had been visually inspired by the comics of Jim Steranko.
“She was a real wartime sister,” Mr. Mortimer wrote, “fighting battles to make this thing incredible despite limitations and relentless catastrophes.”
Accidents on film and television sets have occurred with some regularity over the past decades, including stuntmen injured in action sequences or actors killed due to prop malfunction.
There were at least 194 serious accidents on television and movie sets in the United States from 1990 to 2014, and at least 43 fatalities, according to the Associated Press.
In 1993, Brandon Lee, actor and son of martial arts star Bruce Lee, died while filming “The Crow,” after being hit by a weapon that purportedly fired blank cartridges. The tip of a .44 caliber bullet had lodged in the barrel of the gun while filming a close-up scene and dislodged when a blank cartridge was fired. The bullet pierced Mr. Lee’s abdomen, damaging several organs and lodging in his spine.
On the set of “Twilight Zone” in Los Angeles in 1982, a helicopter crash killed actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, Renee Shinn Chen and My-ca Dinh Lee. The film’s director, John Landis, has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the deaths, along with four other members of the film crew, including the helicopter pilot. (All five were acquitted in May 1987.)
In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot himself in the head while playing Russian roulette on the set of the TV series “Cover Up”. Mr Hexum, 26, had loaded three empty cartridges and two blanks filled with gunpowder into a high-powered handgun before firing, according to a detective in charge of the case.
Mr. Hexum suffered a fractured skull and underwent five hours of surgery. He died a few days later.