Production on Rust was halted after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on set. As reported by Deadline, the production team shared a letter sent to the crew, stating that they “made the decision to wrap the set at least until investigations are complete.”
This news comes after reports that seven crew members walked off the film due to unsafe working conditions just hours before Hutchins was shot.
The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating how a prop gun discharged by Alec Baldwin left Hutchins dead and injured Rust director Joel Souza.
The LA Times also published an in-depth account of the events leading to the accident. According to the affidavit obtained by the publication, Souza said three people were in charge of handling the weapon: armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, former assistant director Dave Halls (who gave the prop to Baldwin), and Baldwin himself.
Per the affidavit, “Halls had taken one of three prop guns set up by Gutierrez Reed on a cart left outside the structure because of COVID-19 restrictions, the affidavit said. Halls did not know live rounds were in the gun when he handed it to Baldwin, and Halls yelled ‘cold gun.’”
The cast and crew had a lunch break, but according to Souza, he wasn’t sure if the gun was checked again after that time. During their post-lunch rehearsal, there was a shadow in the shot, so the camera angle was changed.
Baldwin was testing out how he was planning to draw his gun in the scene. When he pulled the gun from the holster, it discharged, according to camera operator Reid Russell’s account.
According to Souza, he himself was looking over Hutchins’ shoulder when the gun discharged; the gun went off and Hutchins was shot in the stomach. Souza recalled that the cinematographer had “grabbed her midsection, stumbled backward, and was assisted to the ground.” Russell said he heard Hutchins say she couldn’t feel her legs.
It still has not been explained how a gun with live ammunition ended up on the Rust set.