On the set of Alec Baldwin’s new film Rust, a horrific incident happened that stunned the entertainment industry. Yesterday, Thursday, 10/21, at 1:50 p.m. MT, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office fielded a call from the Rust film set. While on location, at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a prop gun that was used for the film. It was “discharged” by Alec Baldwin, one of the principle actors, who is also one of the producers on the film.
The Horrific Incident
Reports came in from news sources around the country, and they confirmed the tragic incident. Two crew members from the film were shot. The Director of Photography, Halyna Hutchins, and the Director, Joel Souza, were both immediately treated for their injuries. But tragically, Hutchins, who was helicoptered to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, succumbed to her fatal injuries. She passed away at the hospital. Souza was rushed to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. He arrived by ambulance, where he received emergency treatment for his injuries. One of the film’s actors, Frances Fisher, tweeted that Souza was out of the hospital in response to a news article.
Director Joel Souza told me he’s out of hospital.
— Frances Fisher (@Frances_Fisher) October 22, 2021
According to the New York Times, at the time of the horrific incident, Baldwin was either rehearsing or filming a scene for the film. After the incident, Baldwin went to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office to give them his statement. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Baldwin could be seen visually distraught and in tears, while talking on a cell phone in the parking lot outside of the office.
Baldwin Makes His First Public Statement
Today, Baldwin took to Twitter to express his grief and sorrow for the horrific and tragic incident that took place on Rust’s film set. He said the following in a two-part tweet series,
1- 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’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and 2- 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.
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’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and
— AlecBaldwin(HABF) (@AlecBaldwin) October 22, 2021
2- 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.
— AlecBaldwin(HABF) (@AlecBaldwin) October 22, 2021
Has Anyone Been Charged?
So far, there have been no criminal charges for anyone on the film set. A representative from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Juan Ríos, said that the office is treating this as they would any other investigation. The sheriff’s office shared that they were still working on determining whether the incident was an accident. They went on to say, in a news release, that the set would be on lock down as they continued their investigation. One thing they are trying to understand is how the tragic incident happened. This would include fining out “what [exact] type of projectile was discharged” from the prop gun. And from there, what course of action would need to take place, after that information is understood.
Prop Guns Firing Blanks Are A Problem: This Has Happened Twice Before
This is not the first time something like this has occurred on a film set. According to Deadline, this is not the first time a prop gun that was firing blanks has ended in tragedy. In 1984, on October 18, an incident occurred with actor Jon-Erik Hexum, where he was killed by accidentally shooting himself in the head. The gun he used was a prop gun, and it was loaded with blanks. This horrific accident occurred on the set of the TV series Cover Up. The next tragic incident happened in 1993. The son of the legendary martial arts icon Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, passed away, after succumbing to his injuries on set. A projectile was shot in his spine, accidentally, by another actor on the set of the film The Crow. No one was charged on either account and were deemed horrific accidents.
What Is A Prop Gun Loaded With Blanks?
The definition of a prop gun depends on the film production. Some are cap guns, others fake or non-functioning weapons, but a prop gun could be a real weapon or one that has been adapted to fire blanks. This means that instead of firing out bullets or ammunition, the prop gun uses the force of the explosion to fire out air or gas. If you fire a blank, as they do in some prop guns, you can get the loud bang as well as the visible flash of combustion powder that make filming a scene more realistic. A blank is a real cartridge that does NOT have a bullet or projectile in its tip. See the diagram below. Importantly, the left image is a live bullet, while the one on the right is a blank cartridge.
Accidents happen on two occasions: firstly, when the high velocity gas shoots at close range; and secondly, when there a piece of small debris left in the cartridge acts as a projectile. Both can lead to serious injuries, but the latter can be deadly. Because of the velocity of the force, these types of incidents can prove to be tragic. This is why guns, prop or otherwise, firing blanks, are still just as dangerous as those carrying live ammunition.