An assistant director handed Alec Baldwin a prop firearm and yelled “cold gun” before the actor fired and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza, according to a court document.
The “cold gun” remark was meant to indicate that the weapon did not have live rounds, according to an affidavit for a search warrant for the movie set filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and obtained by CNN affiliate KOAT.
According to the affidavit, Baldwin was handed one of three prop guns by assistant director David Halls that were set up in a cart by an armorer.
Halls did not know there were live rounds in the gun, the affidavit said.
But when the actor fired the gun, a live round hit Hutchins, 42, in the chest and wounded Souza, 48, who was nearby, according to the affidavit.
Hutchins was pronounced dead at the hospital after being airlifted, the affidavit says.
Before Thursday’s shooting, some crew members quit the production over concerns related to safety — including gun inspections and Covid-19 protocols not being followed, according to the Los Angeles Times and other media reports.
Three crew members who were on the set last weekend told the Times there were two accidental prop gun discharges before Thursday.
The rounds were accidentally fired October 16 by Baldwin’s stunt double after he was told the gun was “cold,” two of the crew members, who witnessed the discharges, told the newspaper.
The film’s production company told Deadline in a statement that it was not notified of official complaints regarding weapon or prop safety on set.
“We will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” Rust Movie Productions, LLC said in a statement. “The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.”
CNN has made multiple attempts to reach Rust Movie Productions for comment but has not received a response.
“Cold guns” aren’t supposed to be loaded, particularly during rehearsals, a weapons expert told CNN on Friday.
“You have to make sure that the weapon is truly cold, which means there should have been no rounds in there, period. And especially if it’s a rehearsal,” Bryan Carpenter, an armorer and weapons master in the film industry, told CNN.
Carpenter added that while it’s acceptable for some actors to want to get a feel of a weapon during rehearsals, it’s crucial to ensure the prop guns are not filled with any rounds. He noted that weapons on sets should be confirmed “cold” by two people to avoid such tragic incidents.
Despite safety measures, fatal production accidents have happened.
While filming the movie “The Crow” in 1993, actor Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, was killed in a prop gun shooting accident.
Even blank ammunition can be deadly if fired at close range. In 1984, actor John-Eric Hexum was playing around with a gun on the set of “Cover Up: Golden Opportunity” and died after putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
Prop master Joseph Fisher told CNN on Friday that even when there is no “bullet” in a prop gun, there are still projectiles, including gun powder and gas which can be dangerous within a certain range.
Multiple agencies are investigating how this shooting happened
The movie called “Rust,” which was being shot at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico, was starring Baldwin, who is also a producer of the film.
A 911 call obtained by KOAT offered a glimpse into the minutes following the shooting. A crew member told the operator that two people had been “accidentally” shot on set.
“We need some help a director and a camera woman have been shot,” a woman told the operator. “I was sitting, we were rehearsing and it went off, and I ran out, we all ran out.”
Baldwin on Friday said he’s in contact with Hutchins’ family.
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,” Baldwin tweeted.
“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.”
According to the affidavit, all firearms and ammunition, cameras and computer equipment and the clothes worn by the actors at the time of the shooting were to be seized.
The New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau is investigating.
“The production company reported the fatality and injury to OHSB last night, in accordance with workplace safety laws. OHSB is investigating the incident in coordination with law enforcement, the employer, and employees,” the agency said in a statement.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also secured the shooting scene, spokesman Juan Ríos said.
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