SANTA FE, N.M. — Alec Baldwin was practicing a “cross draw” in a church pew that required pointing his weapon at the camera during the prop gun mishap that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead, newly released documents reveal.
Two new witness accounts made public by the Sante Fe Sheriff’s Office on Sunday night describe the harrowing moment the 42-year-old director of photography was shot inside the church building on the New Mexico set of the film “Rust.”
Baldwin was rehearsing the gun-retrieval method from a pew of the mock church at Bonanza Creek Ranch when he aimed at the camera, while both Hutchins and 48-year-old director, Joel Souza stood behind it.
Souza then says he heard a “loud pop” and realized both him and Hutchins were bleeding, according to a police interview.
The director told investigators that he remembered hearing the phrase “cold-gun” while preparing for the scene, indicating the firearm wasn’t loaded and was safe for use, but he couldn’t remember if the gun, described as a “revolver” in the records, had been checked after the crew returned from a lunch break before the incident happened.
Another witness, cameraman Reid Russel, gave additional insight into the moments leading up to the horrific tragedy.
“[Russell] said while preparing, there was a shadow coming from the outside light and they had to move the camera at a different angle from Alec,” the warrant says.
“He said Alec was trying to explain how he was going to draw out the firearm and where his arm would be at when the firearm was pulled from the holster,” according to the warrant.
“[Russell] was not sure why the firearm was discharged and just remembered the loud bang from the firearm,” the document states.
Souza, who was looking over Hutchins’ shoulder when the Thursday tragedy unfolded, was struck in the shoulder and Hutchins in the chest.
“[Russel] said after the firearm was discharged, he remembered [Souza] having blood on his person, and [Hutchins] speaking and saying she couldn’t feel her legs,” the record says.
“[Russel] stated once [Hutchins] was on the ground, medics began to treat her injury as she was bleeding while on the floor of the building they were in.”
Souza told authorities that Hutchins stumbled backward while complaining of pain before she was helped to the ground. Hutchins was then airlifted to the hospital, but could not be saved. Souza has since been released from the hospital.
The fatal mishap happened during a tense day on-set following numerous issues between the crew and the production team overseeing the film.
Russel told police that filming was behind schedule that day and he “had much work to complete” after six members of the camera crew walked off the set in the morning following “issues with production involving payment and housing,” the document states.
He added the crew that had walked off, who were reportedly replaced with non-union workers and threatened with “security” if they didn’t immediately leave, had previously penned a “letter to production on disagreements.”
Souza had also mentioned production was behind schedule, largely because there was only one camera available to use after the crew walked off.
“During the morning hours, the day started off late due to a camera crew that had quit and they had to find another camera crew to help film the movie,” Souza told police.
“[Souza] said once they hired another camera crew to assist, the day was taking longer than usual because they only had one camera to do the filming.”
Filmmakers have traditionally used real guns on movie sets but load them with blanks instead of real bullets to avoid a similar mishap.
Production on the film has been halted amid an investigation on the shooting and an “absolutely devastated” Baldwin is reportedly taking time off from his other projects.
No arrests have been made. The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office said Sunday night the incident “remains an active, open investigation” and a press conference on the matter will be held on Wednesday.
Source: New York Post