Alec Baldwin was "practicing a cross draw" that required him to point the weapon at the camera when the prop gun went off, killing the cinematographer of 'Rust' Halyna Hutchins and seriously injuring director Joel souza, new documents released on Sunday reveal. The new information includes previously unreported statements from Souza and cameraman Reid Russell.
Souza, 48, spoke to investigators on Friday, according to the affidavit released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Sunday. Souza was shot in the shoulder and Hutchins, 42, was killed when the prop gun went off during a rehearsal at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, the search warrant reveals.
According to the two new witness accounts made public by the Sante Fe Sheriff's Office on Sunday, Baldwin was rehearsing the gun-retrieval method from a pew of the mock church at Bonanza Creek Ranch. The cast and crew had taken a lunch break, and when they returned, Souza told police that he wasn't sure if the firearm to be used by Baldwin had been checked anew for safety.
During this cross draw practice, Baldwin was required to point the gun at the camera. Hutchins and Souza at that time were standing behind the camera. Souza suddenly heard a "loud pop" and realized both him and Hutchins were bleeding, according to a police interview.
After getting hit in the shoulder, Souza said that he didn't remember much except seeing Hutchins' reaction. She was "complaining about her stomach and grabbing her midsection," he said, according to the warrant.
"Joel also said Halayna began to stumble backwards and she was assisted to the ground," the warrant read. "Joel explained that he was bleeding from his shoulder and he could see blood on Halyna."
Too Costly a Mistake
Camera operator Russell's interview to police reveals that the incident wasn't captured on camera because the cast and crew were rehearsing for the scene. It was earlier thought that the incident might have been captured on camera but it was not filming at that time.
Russell also said he was not sure if the gun had been checked because he had left the area for five minutes for a break. Souza told the investigating officers that he remembered hearing the phrase "cold-gun" while rehearsing for the scene, indicating the firearm wasn't loaded and was safe for use.
However, he couldn't remember if the gun that has been described as a "revolver" in the search warrant had been checked after the crew returned from a lunch break before the incident happened.
Accordingt o reports, the film's assistant director Dave halls didn't check the gun himself after the head armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed told him it was safe for use.
There were three guns lying on a cart. Gutierrez-Reed was confident that they were safe. Seeing this Halls grabbed one of the guns and handed it to Baldwin who fired the shot at Hutchins killing her instantly. In fact, neither did Gutierrez-Reed nor Halls follow the weapon safety protocols of checking the prop gun.
How it All Unfolded
The warrant mentions, "[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."
"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. [Russell] was not sure why the firearm was discharged and just remembered the loud bang from the firearm," according to the warrant.
The warrant, somehow, doesn't blame anyone and has tried to give Baldwin a clean chit. "Reid said Alec had been very careful, and brought up an instance when a scene was being filmed earlier," the warrant states. "Reid said Alec had made sure it was safe and that a child wasn't near him when they were discharging a firearm during that scene."
That said, Souza has admitted to investigators that it was a tense day of shooting before tragedy struck the film, as a few protesting crew members had walked off the film citing concerns over safety conditions.
He also said that 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." Gutierrez-Reed was one of the replacements and joined the film's crew with minimum experience.
Souza had also mentioned production was behind schedule, largely because there was only one camera available to use after the crew walked off.