On Thursday, October 21, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally injured after a prop gun misfired on the set of Rust.
Hutchins, 42, died after actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm during an indoor rehearsal. Director Joel Souza, who had been standing behind Hutchins at the time, was shot in the shoulder and has since been discharged from hospital after receiving treatment.
At the time of writing, nobody has been charged in relation to the shooting, which happened on set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe. Prosecutors are now understood to be in the process of reviewing evidence, as per a statement from Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies.
According to court reports obtained by AP, assistant director Dave Halls had unwittingly handed Baldwin the loaded weapon, telling him that it was safe to use.
Halls had reportedly shouted ‘Cold gun’ just before the tragedy, an industry term meaning the weapon wasn’t loaded and was safe to fire. However, unbeknown to Baldwin, the gun was in fact loaded with live rounds.
In a statement given to Santa Fe detectives, camera operator Reid Russell said that Baldwin had always made sure to be careful when using weapons, detailing one incident in which the 63-year-old had ensured a child actor was a safe distance away during the discharging of a gun.
In a tweeted statement, Baldwin said:
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 and 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.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, a Rust crew member has since claimed that there had been other prop gun misfires on set prior to Hutchins’ death.
A number of people have come forward on social media, identifying themselves as crew members, making claims about the production being poorly funded and without adequate oversight.
Furthermore, chief electrician Serge Svetnoy has blamed producers for the tragedy in a Facebook post shared Sunday, October 24.
In this post, Svetnoy, who had worked alongside Hutchins during various projects, alleged that there had been ‘negligence and unprofessionalism’ among those handling weaponry. He also claimed that producers had hired an armourer who lacked the necessary experience.
As reported by The Daily Beast, 24-year-old armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed had previously worked on the set of another movie where a firearms mishap led to production being shut down.
While working on a separate upcoming film The Old Way, Gutierrez-Reed also allegedly handed a weapon to an 11-year-old child actor without first conducting a proper inspection.
Speaking anonymously, a crew member familiar with Gutierrez-Reed’s work on The Old Way described her as being ‘a bit careless with the guns’, claiming that they saw her ‘waving it around every now and again’.
The source continued:
There were a couple times she was loading the blanks and doing it in a fashion that we thought was unsafe.
On Friday, October 22, Rust Movie Productions LLC released a statement claiming it had not been not aware of complaints, but would carry out an ‘internal review’ of procedures:
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,’ it concluded.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677
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