Tragedy struck the set of Alec Baldwin’s movie, Rust, last week. The Hollywood actor, 63, was rehearsing a scene when a gun went off, fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring the film’s director Joel Souza.
Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to hospital where she was pronounced dead. Ukrainian-born Hutchins was a rising star in the film industry, was married to Matthew Hutchins and had a nine-year-old son. Souza was treated and later discharged by medics.
Soon afterwards, news of the horrific event began to ripple across the globe, while Hollywood reacted with shock, sadness and anger. In the days since, many questions have been asked about how such an incident could happen and, on Wednesday, detectives investigating the tragedy held a press conference detailing what had been established so far.
Here is how it all unfolded...
Harrowing 911 call
According to an affidavit and the 911 calls transcript, the shooting took place at about 1.50pm on October 21 at Bonanza Creek Ranch - a Western movie set outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the time, Baldwin and others were rehearsing a scene in a wooden church on set, which was meant to look like 1880s Kansas. Baldwin was handed a gun, and then performed a "cross draw" - or pulling the gun from a holster on the opposite side of his body. Witnesses later said they then heard a “loud pop.” Hutchins hit the floor and Souza noticed he was bleeding.
In a 911 call obtained by CNN, the film’s script supervisor said: "Two people have been accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun. We need help immediately.” Police and emergency staff then rushed to the scene. After Hutchins and Souza were taken to hospital 55 miles away in Albuquerque, Baldwin gave his blood-stained Western outfit to authorities. The prop gun and used casing was also handed to detectives.
Details of the tragedy continued to emerge as tributes for Hutchins poured in. Pictures of Baldwin bent over in grief outside of the Santa Fe police station were published. He also broke his silence over the tragedy and confirmed he and Hutchins’s husband were in touch. He wrote 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 cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred. 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.” Meanwhile, the first suggestion the prop gun may have been loaded with a live bullet emerged via an email sent to members of the movie prop masters union, IATSE Local 44.
Hollywood star Dwayne Johnson and Magic Mike actor Joe Manganiello and Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood were among those paying tributes to Hutchins.
Full horror revealed
Court documents detail some of the horror of what happened on set. They show Baldwin was handed a loaded gun but told it was a “cold gun” by an assistant director. Fashion model Hailey Baldwin, who is married to pop star Justin Bieber, said on social media: “Sending all my love to the family of Halyna Hutchins. This is a truly unimaginable and devastating tragedy. “My thoughts are also with Joel Souza as he recovers. I am absolutely heartbroken for everyone involved.” Her father Stephen, an actor and producer and Baldwin’s brother, asked his followers to send prayers in a post on Instagram.
Allegations of negligence
A camera operator told authorities Baldwin had been careful with weapons on set. Reid Russell also told a detective Baldwin was responsible with firearms, citing an instance when Baldwin made sure a child actor was not near him when a gun was being discharged. Russell’s statement also detailed turmoil on the set the day of the shooting with several members of the camera crew walking off the production over payment and lodging disputes. The film’s chief electrician, Serge Svetnoy, blamed producers for Hutchins’ death in an emotional Facebook post suggesting there was “negligence and unprofessionalism” among those handling weapons.
An affidavit including statements by director Souza was released, in which he recalled hearing “cold gun” being announced to the crew. He said the scene they were shooting did not call for the use of live rounds and described the gunshot as sounding like a whip and a loud pop.
Reports emerge that Baldwin had cancelled all other projects and was planning to step back from the public eye. A source said the star was looking “to take some time to himself and re-centre himself”. The same source told People Magazine Baldwin was “hysterical and absolutely inconsolable for hours” after the shooting. “This was pretty devastating,” the source said. “This is how he handles difficult times. Whenever something bad happens, in the short term, he removes himself from [the] public eye.”
Threat of criminal charges
The local district attorney handling the Rust case has said criminal charges have not been ruled out. Speaking with the New York Times on Tuesday, Mary Carmack-Altwies said it was incorrect to refer to the firearm used in the incident as a “prop gun”, as most reports have. “It was a legit gun,” Carmack-Altwies told the paper. “It was an antique, era-appropriate gun. Everything at this point, including criminal charges, is on the table.”
Meanwhile, Santa Fe county sheriff Adan Mendoza and MsCarmack-Altwies held a press conference where they revealed a “lead projectile” was recovered from Souza’s shoulder. It was “apparently the same round” that killed Hutchins and was suspected to be a live round - but further testing was needed to confirm. Some 500 rounds of ammunition - described as dummies, blanks and suspected live rounds - were recovered from the set, authorities said, while two people handled the revolver — armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls. They and Baldwin have been cooperative, the sheriff added.