News broke yesterday about a fatal accident on the set of a new Western starring Alec Baldwin. Initial reports detailed the death of an unidentified crew member after a prop gun misfired during shooting on the New Mexico set; soon, it was revealed that Baldwin had discharged the gun, and along with injuries sustained by director Joel Souza, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was the victim, pronounced dead at nearby University of New Mexico hospital.
Now, new updates to the incident include the fact that a live bullet had somehow been inside the prop gun discharged by Baldwin. As reported by IndieWire, IATSE Local 44, which covers prop masters, sent out an email to its members announcing that the prop gun used in the scene being filmed contained a “live round.” Additionally, the union noted that the production’s prop master was not a member of Local 44.
Many details of the incident remain unknown, but the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Baldwin was questioned by authorities and then released. No charges have been filed, and the incident remains under investigation. “We’re trying to determine right now how and what type of projectile was used in the firearm,” according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Juan Rios.
This news contradicts the initial statement made by the film’s production to The Hollywood Reporter, which stated that the fatal shooting involved “the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.” Thus far, the production has not released any further comments about the accident.
IATSE Local 44 Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Pawluc termed the event “an accidental weapons discharge”: “A live single round was accidentally fired on set by the principal actor, hitting both the Director of Photography, Local 600 member Halnya Hutchins, and Director Joel Souza… Local 44 has confirmed that the Props, Set Decoration, Special Effects and Construction Departments were staffed by New Mexico crew members. There were no Local 44 members on the call sheet.”
Halyna Hutchins graduated from AFI in 2015, was named one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019, and had been posting pictures from the shoot to her social media account. The International Cinematographers Guild released a short statement regarding the DP’s death: “This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our Guild’s family.” We will continue to update this story as further details come to light.
[Updated: 10/22] Alec Baldwin has commented on the accident via Twitter. In a series of tweets, he wrote, “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.”
He added, “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.”