The police investigation into a fatal shootout with a propeller pistol fired by actor Alec Baldwin on a film set focused on the specialist in charge of the weapon and the assistant director who handed it over to Mr. Baldwin.
Ukrainian-born cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, was shot in the chest and died shortly after Thursday’s incident in New Mexico, while director Joel Souza, 48, who stood behind her as they lined up a shot, was injured and hospitalized before being released.
Police questioned Mr. Baldwin, who voluntarily cooperated, but did not bring any charges.
The incident stunned many in Hollywood and beyond, sparking intense speculation as to how such an accident, on the set of a 19th century western called “Rust”, could have happened despite protocols. elaborate gun safety for film sets.
According to the affidavit submitted by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office for a search warrant, the gun, which was supposed to be loaded with a blank charge, instead had a live bullet.
He said deputy director Dave Halls, identified as the man who handed the gun to Mr Baldwin during a rehearsal, called it “cold gun” as he did – industry code to indicate that the weapon had only one blank charge.
“The assistant manager (Dave Halls) had no idea that live ammunition was in the propeller pistol” when he handed it to Mr. Baldwin, according to the affidavit.
He said police wanted to determine if video footage or cell phone footage would shed light on the incident; to verify the “Western-style” outfit worn by Mr. Baldwin; and check all firearms, ammunition and casings at the scene.
He said Mr Baldwin handed the gun to Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24, – the film’s master at arms or gunsmith – immediately after filming, and that she removed a used cartridge case and returned both to deputies upon their arrival.
The Actors’ Equity Association’s detailed gun safety guidelines state that “all loading of firearms should be done by the owner of the property, the gunsmith or experienced persons working under their direct supervision.”
The guidelines also state: âBefore each use, make sure the gun has been tested offstage, then ask to test it yourself. housed inside. “
Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department Detective Joel Cano said the incident happened during a rehearsal and it was not clear if it was filmed.
He said the prop gun was one of three on a cart outside a building. One of them was taken away by the assistant director of the film who went inside and handed it to Mr. Baldwin.
“As the assistant director handed the gun to actor Alec Baldwin, (he) shouted ‘cold weapon’, indicating that the gun did not have live ammunition,” the affidavit said.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement yesterday that the case was in its preliminary stages, adding: “At this time, we do not know if charges will be laid.”
The Los Angeles Times, citing anonymous sources, reported that there were at least three misfires before the fatal crash, and some crew members protested this and other working conditions. .
He said at least one cameraman sent a message to a production manager, saying, “We have now had three accidental discharges. It is very dangerous.”
Rust Movie Productions said in a statement that it had not been made aware of any “official complaint” but that it “would continue to cooperate with authorities in Santa Fe.”
He said he was also conducting an internal review.
“Rust,” which Baldwin is a co-producer, was being filmed in the foothills of northern New Mexico on the sprawling Bonanza Creek Ranch, which has served as the backdrop for many films.
Read more: Firearms in the cinema: how to use them safely?
The International Theater Employees Alliance (IATSE) said in a statement it was devastated to learn of the death of Ms Hutchins, who was a member of the union.
Representatives for Ms Hutchins in a statement said they “hoped this tragedy will reveal new lessons on how to better ensure the safety of every crew member on set.”
Ms Hutchins, 42, from Ukraine, has been named one of the American filmmaker’s rising stars of 2019.
Her last social media post two days ago, the watch smiling under a wide-brimmed hat as she rides a horse. “One of the perks of shooting a western is that you can ride a horse on your day off :)” she captioned the video.
Known for his impersonations of former US President Donald Trump on the “Saturday Night Live” sketch show, Mr. Baldwin has appeared in more than 100 television and film comedies and dramas, and won Emmy Awards for his role as selfish leader of a television network in satire. ’30 Rock ‘.
The accident has rekindled the debate on banning certain types of propeller guns on television and film sets.
Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, has died at the age of 28 after being fatally injured in 1993 by a prop pistol in an accident on set while filming “The Crow”.
âI don’t understand why we would still use blank cartridges someday when you could fake them,â said independent director and producer Ben Rock.