Police tape surrounds the set of the western movie “Rust” after two people were shot by actor Alec Baldwin after his prop firearm misfired on the set Thursday. One of them was killed.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s has identified the two people shot as cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza.
Hutchins was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital via helicopter where she died of her injuries.
Souza was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center where he is being treated for his injuries, the sheriff’s office said.
Baldwin, who is not only the star of the movie but also the movie’s co-producer, was questioned by the sheriff’s office before being released. He has not been charged in the incident and investigators are looking into how the prop gun became a deadly weapon.
Baldwin posted tweets about the incident on Friday writing, “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.”
He added “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.”
Hours before the incident, Baldwin posted an Instagram post, showing him on the set of the movie. The post featured Baldwin in costume with the caption “Back to in person at the office.” It has since been deleted.
On Tuesday, Hutchins posted a video on Instagram, showing her riding horses with several other people. The caption reads: “One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off.”
According to movie set gun safety expert Larry Zanoff, a gun loaded with blanks has gunpowder but should have no projectiles.
Still, Zanoff says it’s potentially dangerous to be within 20 feet of a prop gun when fired.
“Any of that smoke or powder, or that muzzle flash that could affect anyone or anything. Again, we keep a standoff distance of 20 feet in order for there to be no effect on something that’s in front of the muzzle,” Zanoff said.
In 1993, actor Brandon Lee, son of martial arts icon Bruce Lee, was shot and killed with a gun that was said to have been loaded with blanks.
in 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum died after he fired a prop .44 Magnum with blanks at his head in a mock game of Russian roulette.
Zanoff said that there are guidelines to follow on movie sets. “We’re always concerned with safety on a television and motion picture set,” he said.
Detectives are investigating how firing the prop gun resulted in death and injury and they are continuing to interview witnesses. Production on the film has been halted.