(Trends Wide) — An assistant director handed Alec Baldwin a prop gun and yelled “cold weapon” before the actor shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, according to a court document.
The “cold weapon” comment was intended to indicate that the weapon had no live ammunition, according to an affidavit of a search warrant for the film set filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and obtained by KOAT, Trends Wide affiliate.
According to the affidavit, Assistant Director David Halls presented Baldwin with one of three prop weapons that a gunsmith placed in a cart.
Halls did not know there were live bullets in the weapon, the affidavit said.
But when the actor fired the gun, a bullet struck 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 said.
“Cold weapons” are not supposed to be loaded, particularly during rehearsals, a weapons expert told Trends Wide on Friday.
“You have to make sure the gun is really cool, which means there shouldn’t have been any ammunition in there, period. And especially if it’s a rehearsal,” Bryan Carpenter, gunsmith and weapons master in the motion picture industry, told Trends Wide.
Carpenter added that while it is acceptable for some actors to want to get an idea of a weapon during rehearsals, it is crucial to ensure that the prop guns are not crammed with ammunition. He noted that weapons on sets must be confirmed “cold” by two people to avoid such tragic incidents.
Despite safety measures, fatal production accidents have occurred.
While filming the movie “The Raven” in 1993, actor Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, died in an accident with a firearm.
Even blank ammunition can be deadly if fired at close range. In 1984, actor John-Eric Hexum was playing with a gun on the set of “Cover Up: Golden Opportunity” and died after putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
Propmaster Joseph Fisher told Trends Wide on Friday that even when there is no “bullet” in a support pistol, there are still projectiles, gunpowder and gas, which can be dangerous within a certain range.
Several agencies are investigating how this incident occurred
The movie called “Rust,” which was filming at Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico, starred Baldwin, who is also a producer on the movie.
A 911 call obtained by KOAT offered a glimpse into the minutes after the incident. A crew member told the operator that two people had been “accidentally” shot on set.
“We need help. They have shot a director and a camera,” a woman told the operator. “I was sitting, we were rehearsing and it was over, and I ran, we all ran.”
Baldwin said Friday that he is in contact with the Hutchins family.
“There are no words to express my shock and sadness over the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, our deeply admired wife, mother and colleague”, tweeted Baldwin.
“I fully cooperate with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in contact with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, her son and all who knew and loved Halyna.” .
According to the affidavit, all firearms and ammunition, cameras and computer equipment, and clothing worn by the actors at the time of the shooting were to be seized.
But before Thursday’s incident, some team members left production over concerns related to safety issues, including weapons safety procedures and covid-19 protocols that were not followed, according to the Los Angeles Times and other reports from the media.
The film’s production company told Deadline in a statement that it was not notified of any official complaints about the safety of weapons or accessories on set.
“We will conduct an internal review of our procedures while production is closed,” Rust Movie Productions, LLC said in the statement. “The safety of our cast and crew is the highest priority for Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.”
Trends Wide has made several attempts to contact Rust Movie Productions for comment.
The New Mexico Office of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating.
“The production company reported the death and injuries to OHSB last night in accordance with workplace safety laws. OHSB is investigating the incident in coordination with law enforcement, the employer and employees,” said the agency in a statement.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also secured the scene of the shooting, spokesman Juan Ríos said.
Trends Wide’s Lisa Respers France, Kaylene Chassie, Kay Jones, Rebekah Riess, Sandra Gonzalez, and Andy Rose contributed to this report.