United States movie star Alec Baldwin has fired a prop gun on a film set, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, according to authorities.
Police said the incident occurred on Thursday on the set of independent feature film Rust at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location south of Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico state.
“The sheriff’s office confirms that two individuals were shot on the set of Rust. Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography, and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 68, producer and actor,” the police said in a statement.
No charges have yet been filed regarding the incident, said the police, adding they are investigating the shooting and interviewing witnesses.
US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a movie set that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. An investigation is underway.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 22, 2021
According to authorities, Hutchins was transported by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, while Souza was taken by ambulance to Christus St Vincent Regional Medical centre to undergo treatment for his injuries.
It was not immediately known how serious Souza’s injuries were, although actress Frances Fisher tweeted early Friday that “Souza texted me that he’s out of hospital.”
A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.
“Mr Baldwin was interviewed by detectives,” Santa Fe sheriff spokesman Juan Rios told the AFP news agency.
“He provided statements and answered their questions. He came in voluntarily and he left the building after he finished his interviews. No charges have been filed and no arrests have been made.”
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Baldwin was seen on Thursday outside the sheriff’s office in tears, but attempts to get a comment from him were unsuccessful.
Baldwin later issued a statement on Twitter saying: “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 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,” Baldwin said.
Deadline cited a source in the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department as saying that Baldwin was questioned by investigators and later released.
Baldwin is a co-producer in the Western movie set in 1880s Kansas and plays the eponymous Rust, an outlaw grandfather of a 13-year-old boy convicted of accidental murder.
Most recently famous for his impersonations of former US President Donald Trump on NBC’s comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, Baldwin has a long history in film and television, including roles in Glengarry Glen Ross and 30 Rock.
Originally from Ukraine, Hutchins once worked as an investigative reporter in Europe.
She graduated from the American Film Institute in 2015 and was selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019, according to her website biography.
Her last Instagram post, two days ago, was a video of her riding on a horse, wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
“One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off:)” she said in the post.
Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on “Rust”. No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period. 💔
— Brandon Bruce Lee (@brandonblee) October 22, 2021
April Wright, a writer, director and producer, paid tribute to Hutchins on Facebook.
“I’m in disbelief,” wrote Wright. “So young, vibrant, and talented. Such a wonderful soul. My heart goes out to her son and family.”
The incident recalled the 1993 death of actor Brandon Lee, the son of film legend Bruce Lee, who was shot and killed by a bullet in the barrel of a prop gun while filming The Crow.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust’,” Lee’s sister, Shannon, who runs his official Twitter page, tweeted on Friday.
“No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”