Source: Los Angeles Times
What could have happened only in films has actually happened in real life.
Actor Alec Baldwin was practicing drawing his gun when a fatal shot was unknowingly fired that killed a cinematographer on a New Mexico film set last week, according to the director who was injured in the shooting, which was stated in an affidavit for a search warrant.
Joel Souza, the director of the film Rust, was one of the victims who were accidentally shot with a prop gun during a rehearsal at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, hitting him on the shoulder. The director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, 42, was the victim who got killed.
Last Friday, Souza spoke to investigators, according to the affidavit released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday.
Director Souza told investigators that Baldwin was “sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw,” the affidavit said. In a cross draw, a shooter pulls the weapon from a holster on the opposite side of the body from the draw hand.
According to the affidavit, Director Souza was looking over Halyna Hutchins’ shoulder “when he heard what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop.”
Hutchins then complained about her stomach and grabbed her midsection after the shot was fired, Souza recalled.
Aside from Director Souza, investigators also talked with the film’s camera operator, Reid Russell, who was standing next to Souza and Hutchins at the time of the incident.
He recalled Hutchins saying that “she could not feel her legs.” As she was bleeding on the floor, medics tried to treat her as soon as possible.
When asked how Baldwin handled the firearm, Russell told investigators the actor “had been very careful” and recalled an earlier instance when Baldwin “made sure it was safe and that a child was not near him when they were discharging a firearm during that scene.”
Both Souza and Russell admitted that there were some difficulties on set. Hours before the fatal shot, half a dozen of the camera crew walked off the set to protest working conditions.
The camera operators and their assistants were frustrated by the conditions surrounding the low-budget film, including complaints about long hours, long commutes, and waiting for their paychecks, according to three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.
Due to these conditions, only one camera was used on that day, and such was not recording at the time of the incident.
According to the warrant, Souza said three people had been handling the firearms for scenes. They were checked by the armorer and first assistant director and then given to the actor using them. However, sources say that safety protocols standards in the industry, including gun inspections, were not strictly followed on set. They further added that at least one of the camera operators complained last weekend to a production manager about gun safety on the set.
However, in a statement, Rust Movie Productions said that “the safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”