ALBUQUERQUE – Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved pointing a revolver “at the camera lens” when the pistol – which the team had learned did not contain live ammunition – suddenly went off and killed the director of photography, according to the film’s director, who was quoted in an affidavit published Sunday night.
The film’s director, Joel Souza, described hearing what “sounded like a whip and then a loud pop”.
Mr. Souza’s account explained why Mr. Baldwin had pointed the gun at the director of photography, Halyna Hutchins. But that didn’t answer the question of how a gun that wasn’t supposed to contain live ammunition ended up killing her.
The director, who was injured in the shooting, told investigators he believed the weapon was safe and had been described as a “sharp weapon” in gun safety announcements. He said the guns on the film set were usually checked by the film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, and then checked again by Dave Halls, the assistant director, who would hand them over to the cast.
On film sets, the order of who handles a weapon usually involves a precise sequence, several gunsmiths in the industry have said. But the actors had been handed guns on set by Mr Halls and Ms Gutierrez-Reed, according to a producer of “Rust” who asked not to be named due to the ongoing investigation.
On Thursday, after preparing for the scene in a church setting, Mr Souza told investigators there had been a lunch break and the crew had been taken by shuttle elsewhere for food. He said they returned to the set after lunch, but was “not sure the gun was checked again”.
The new details, which emerged when the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office released the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant, provided the most comprehensive account to date of the deadly shooting, which took place on Thursday. afternoon on a plateau outside of Santa Fe.
Mr Baldwin was seated 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. Mr Souza said he was standing next to Ms Hutchins “looking at the angle of the camera”.
Mr. Souza saw Ms. Hutchins grab her abdomen and start to stumble back. Then he noticed he was bleeding from his shoulder.
The details, woven together by Detective Joel Cano in a search warrant application to seize everything from camera memory cards to bone fragments and gun dumps, provide a chilling account of the shooting. fatal on a production set that had been beset by accidental discharges of firearms. and labor disputes between producers and crew members. (The warrant has been granted.)
“When I made contact, I observed a visible injury to the right shoulder,” Detective Cano said in the affidavit, describing how he interviewed Mr. Souza on Friday afternoon, after the warden had been treated for his injury. Ms Hutchins, who was shot to the chest, had previously been pronounced dead Thursday at the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque.
“Joel said there should never be live rounds, either near or around the scene,” Detective Cano wrote in the affidavit.
Mr Souza was struggling with delays on the day of filming, after about six members of the film crew resigned due to late payments and security conditions, according to the affidavit. Another team was quickly hired, but production fell behind due to labor issues. Mr Souza said only one camera was available for recording before filming.
Asked about “the behavior of the employees”, Mr. Souza told investigators that “everyone got along well” and that there had been “no altercation” to his knowledge.
The affidavit also includes notes from an interview with Reid Russell, a cameraman who was standing near Ms Hutchins and Mr Souza when the pistol fired.
Mr. Russell told Detective that after returning to the set after lunch, he was out for about five minutes; on his return, according to the affidavit, Mr. Baldwin, Ms. Hutchins and Mr. Souza were preparing the scene and were already “in possession of the firearm”. Mr. Russell said he was not sure if the firearm had been inspected because he had been away for those five minutes.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Halls seized the gun from a gray two-tiered tray set up by Ms. Gutierrez-Reed. Mr. Halls handed the gun to Mr. Baldwin and shouted “cold weapon”, which on a movie set usually refers to an unloaded firearm.
When setting up the scene, the team had to reposition the camera because there was a shadow. Mr Russell told Detective that Mr Baldwin was explaining how he was going to draw the gun, remove it from the holster, when the gun discharged.
Mr. Russell said Mr. Baldwin had been “very careful” with the firearm; in a previous scene, Mr Russell said, Mr Baldwin had tried to ensure safety on set, making sure a child was not near him when he was unloading the gun. Asked about the behavior of members of the production team when setting up the stage, he said “everyone seemed to get along”.
Mr Souza, the director, told the detective that since the team were setting the scene when the pistol discharged, the incident was not filmed.
After the gun was unloaded, Mr. Russell told the detective that he “remembers that Joel had blood on his person and that Ms. Hutchins was talking and said she couldn’t feel his legs.”
In an Instagram post Monday morning, Mr Baldwin’s wife Hilaria Baldwin expressed support for Ms Hutchins’ family as well as Mr Baldwin, writing that it was “impossible to express shock and the sorrow of such a tragic accident “.
Graham Bowley contributed reporting.