The production company behind the embattled movie “Rust” is shutting down production until the investigation into the on-set shooting and death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is completed, Fox News can confirm.
On Thursday, actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot two people, killing Hutchins, and injuring “Rust” director Joel Souza when he discharged a prop gun after being told it was “cold” or unloaded, per affidavits.
The Western movie was filming at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico and currently, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident.
The production company also confirmed it will be “conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down” and providing mental health services to the cast and crew in light of the tragedy.
“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,” the producers said in a statement obtained by Fox News.
Reid Russell, a camera operator who was working on the film’s set that day, noted to detectives in a newly released affidavit that Baldwin was very careful when it came to the use of prop firearms while filming prior to the incident.
According to the warrant affidavit, which was obtained by Fox News, Russell actually commended the 63-year-old actor for his conduct during a prior scene that involved discharging a firearm. He noted that the actor observed all the safety protocols and even did an extra check-in with the crew to make sure no one was near him. Specifically, he made sure a child who was on set that day wasn’t anywhere near him when discharging the weapon.
Unfortunately, Baldwin was reportedly told by assistant director Dave Halls that the gun he was working with when Hutchins was shot was a “cold gun,” a term used when a firearm being worked with on a set is not loaded with any live ammunition. Unfortunately, it seems the gun was in fact loaded. When Baldwin pulled the trigger while working with Souza and Hutchins to set up a shot, it went off resulting in one of the worst on-set tragedies in recent memory.
In the warrant from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office, Souza explained that he heard “what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop,” and noticed Hutchins, who he was standing behind at the time, grab her midsection as she stumbled backward. She “was assisted to the ground” by other crew members and Russell recalls Hutchins saying she could not feel her legs.
Hutchins was immediately attended to by on-site medics and later airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she was eventually pronounced dead. Souza, who was also injured in the incident, was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe where he was treated for a wound near his right shoulder. He has since been released from the hospital.
Souza said three people were handling the gun for the scene. Armorer Hanna Gutierrez Reed reportedly handled prop guns left on a cart outside the structure they were shooting in due to coronavirus restrictions.
Souza said in the warrant that the cast and crew prepared the scene before lunch and then had their meal away from the shooting location around 12:30 p.m. He was not sure if the gun was checked again when everyone returned from lunch. However, he stated that firearms are supposed to be checked by the armorer followed by the assistant director before handing them to the actor. He said he was not sure if people were checked for live ammunition on their person, but stated that live ammunition should not have been anywhere near the scene.
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.