'Rust' Shooting: Everything We Know About the Tragedy

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Questions surrounding the tragic shooting on the set of Rust continue to be asked. A gun that was inadvertently loaded was used by Alec Baldwin as a prop in the film. The weapon was discharged, striking and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and hospitalizing director Joel Souza, who has since been released.

The shocking incident rocked Hollywood and sparked an investigation by the Sheriff's Department in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and details of the incident are still coming to light.

The film's assistant director, the armorer, and even Baldwin himself, who was also a producer on Rust, have all faced criticism and speculation regarding their possible roles in the shooting, while the Santa Fe District Attorney has said that, with the investigation still ongoing, all options are still "on the table" when it comes to possibly filing charges.

ET has been covering the story since the news first broke on Oct. 21. Here's everything that has come to light in the days since the fatal shooting.

The Initial Incident

On the evening of Oct. 22, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department confirmed to ET that Baldwin discharged a gun that was being used as a prop on the set of his western drama, Rust, which was filming on the Bonanza Creek Ranch.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, was transported by helicopter to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, according to authorities. She was pronounced dead by medical personnel at the hospital. 

Director Joel Souza, 48, received emergency medical care after being transported by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical center in Santa Fe. He was later released.

Baldwin was reportedly questioned by investigators at the Sheriff's Department, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. The 63-year-old actor was also photographed outside the Sheriff's Department after answering questions, and was reportedly in tears as he spoke with someone on the phone.


Alec Baldwin Speaks Out

One day after the incident, Baldwin took to Twitter to address the on-set tragedy

"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," he wrote. "I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family."

Baldwin Was Allegedly Told the Gun Was Safe

According to an affidavit filed by the Santa Fe County’s Sheriff’s Office obtained by The Associated Press and The New York Times, assistant director Dave Halls unintentionally handed the actor the weapon and told him it was safe to use

Per the affidavit, the assistant director did not know the prop gun was loaded with live rounds. It also notes that the weapon that was fired and Baldwin's wardrobe, which was blood-stained, were taken as evidence. Other prop guns, ammunition and any footage that might exist were also confiscated, AP reports. It's still unclear how many rounds were fired.


The Production Already Faced Troubles

Rust reportedly had a series of problems before Hutchins' tragic death and Souza's injury. 

Multiple reports noted that prior to the fatal shooting, many union crew members walked off set in protest of "poor" working conditions. There had also been at least one incident of a prop gun misfiring on the Rust set prior to the fatal accident, Deadline reported.

"The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down," Rust Movie Productions, LLC said in a statement to ET. "We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time."

On Nov. 3, Lane Luper, the former camera assistant for Rust, appeared on Good Morning America, and revealed why he quit the project a day prior to the fatal shooting. 

Luper cited "lax COVID policies, the housing situation... and specifically gun safety, a lack of rehearsals, a lack of preparing the crew for what we were doing that day," as reasons for his resignation, stating, "I only personally remember two safety meetings that involved the entire crew."

Producers of the film disputed Luper's claims to ABC News, calling them "patently false," and noting that "he had absolutely nothing to do with, or knowledge of, safety protocols" on the set.


Rust Shuts Down Production

Shortly after the shooting, a memo was sent out by the Rust production team to the cast and crew of the film, noting that they "have made the decision to wrap the set at least until the investigations are complete."

"Although our hearts are broken, and it is hard to see beyond the horizon, this is, at the moment, a pause rather than an end," read the memo. "The spirit that brought us all to this special place remains."

The message further stated that they are cooperating with authorities in their investigation and are also "conducting an internal review of safety protocols."

That statement noted the production team will "remain in close touch with Halyna's family and commend the strength they show in the face of unspeakable tragedy." 

"We will be making a donation to the Halyna Hutchins Scholarship Fund established by Halyna’s family," the message concluded. "We will be matching any donations by the crew."

However, when Baldwin was asked if he thought the movie would resume production, he said, "No, I don't."


Assistant Director Dave Halls Had Been Fired From Past Productions

According to a CNN report published on Oct. 25, the assistant director was previously the subject of complaints on the set of two productions in 2019.

The complaints leveled against Halls accused him of unsafe practices, a disregard for safety protocols with regard to firearms used during filming, and inappropriate behavior toward crew members. The complaints stemmed from his work on two episodes of the Hulu anthology horror series Into the Dark.

ET also learned that Halls was fired from the set of the 2019 drama Freedom's Path. The film's production company, Rocket Soul Studios, released a statement to ET regarding his termination from the project.

"First of all, our condolences go out to everyone affected by the recent tragic event in New Mexico," the statement shared. "We can confirm that Dave Halls was fired from the set of Freedom's Path in 2019 after a crew member incurred a minor and temporary injury when a gun was unexpectedly discharged. Halls was removed from set immediately after the prop gun discharged. Production did not resume filming until Dave was off-site. An incident report was taken and filed at that time."

Rust Director Joel Souza Says He's "Gutted" by Hutchins' Death

In a statement shared with NBC News on Oct. 24, Souza, who has since been released from the hospital, said he was "gutted" by the loss of his friend and colleague.

"She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better," he said. "My thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time."

Souza continued, "I am humbled and grateful by the outpouring of affection we have received from our filmmaking community, the people of Santa Fe, and the hundreds of strangers who have reached out...It will surely aid in my recovery."

More Details Around the Fatal Shooting Emerge From People on Set

Serge Svetnoy, the chief electrician on the set of Rust, accused the film's 24-year-old armorer and the producers of "negligence and unprofessionalism." He took to Facebook on Oct. 24, to lay blame on who he claims is responsible for Hutchins' death.

"I was holding her in my arms while she was dying. Her blood was on my hands," Svetnoy wrote in his post, which was also penned in Russian. "I want to tell my opinion on why this has happened. I think I have the right to do it. It's the fault of negligence and unprofessionalism."

Svetnoy explained how he'd worked with Hutchins on previous films, and says he was "standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Halyna during this fatal shot that took her life." The crew member went on to slam the producers of the film for not having "professionals" working on set.

Firearms Expert Says a Real Gun Killed Halyna Hutchins

Firearms expert Steve Wolf provided insight into how an incident like this could occur. He explained to ET that, while the gun was used in the film as a prop, it was still very much a real, working firearm and the term "prop gun" is a misnomer, and has been misused in reports on the incident.

"The gun that Helena was shot with was not a prop gun. A prop gun is a gun that has either been modified to only accept blanks, or has been specifically manufactured to only accept blanks," Wolf explained. "If bullets came out of this gun it was not a prop gun. It was a real gun that was being used as a prop in the movie."

According to a report from The Wrap, crew members on the film allegedly used the gun for target practice, shooting beer cans with real ammunition, to pass time on set. This could potentially explain how a real bullet got confused for a fake and remained in the gun.

"Don't bring guns on the set that you can put bullets into. Don't have live ammo on the set," Wolf said. "And most importantly don't point a gun at someone that doesn't pose a threat to you."

Rust Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Breaks Her Silence

In a statement to ET, Gutierrez-Reed's attorneys, Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, extended her deepest and most sincere condolences to Hutchins' family and friends. "Hannah is devastated and completely beside herself over the events that have transpired," the statement reads in part, before addressing "some untruths that have been told to the media, which have falsely portrayed her and slandered her."

"Safety is Hannah’s number one priority on set," her lawyers stated. "Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from. Hannah and the prop master gained control over the guns and she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that. They were locked up every night and at lunch and there’s no way a single one of them was unaccounted for or being shot by crew members. Hannah still, to this day, has never had an accidental discharge. The first one on this set was the prop master and the second was a stunt man after Hannah informed him his gun was hot with blanks."

Her legal council further claimed in the statement that the "whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings," and added that "this was not the fault of Hannah."

On Nov. 3, Bowles spoke out on GMA, stating that discovering how live rounds got on the set is "going to be critical" amid the ongoing investigation.

"We know Hannah did not put the live rounds in that box, we know the live rounds shouldn't have been in that box, but they were... There is no purpose for a live round on this set. Zero. Hannah made that clear," he said. "There was no reason for there to be live rounds, she didn't have live rounds, she didn't purchase any of this ammunition. This ammunition was purchased by other people, production. Whoever brought these live rounds on set was wrong, and I think they had a bad intention. That's what we believe."

Alec Baldwin Speaks on Camera for the First Time

On Oct. 30, Baldwin addressed the incident on camera while in Vermont with his family. 

"I'm not allowed to make any comments because it's an ongoing investigation. I've been ordered by the Sheriff's Department in Santa Fe. I can't answer any questions about the investigation. I can't," he said. "It's an active investigation in terms of a woman died."

"She was my friend. She was my friend," he continued of Hutchins. "The day I arrived in Santa Fe to start shooting, I took her to dinner with Joel, the director. We were a very, very well-oiled crew shooting a film together, and then this horrible event happened. I've been told multiple times, 'Don't make any comments about the ongoing investigation.' I can't."

Baldwin noted that he's spoken to Hutchins' husband, Matthew, saying, "The guy is overwhelmed with grief."

Assistant Director Dave Halls Speaks Out

On Nov. 2, Halls, the assistant director on Rust, spoke out for the first time in a statement to ET.

"Halyna Hutchins was not just one of the most talented people I’ve worked with, but also a friend," Halls told ET, via his attorney, Lisa Torraco. "I’m shocked and saddened by her death. It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again."

"I have been overwhelmed by the love and support," he continues. "My thoughts are with all who knew and loved Halyna."

Alec Baldwin Defends Working Conditions on Rust

On Nov. 2, Baldwin, the star and a producer on Rust, took to Instagram to share a series of screenshots of a note from Terese Magpale Davis, who was working in the costume department on the set of the Western. In the thread, Davis discounted rumors that the cast and crew of Rust were working under unsafe or unfair conditions.

"I'm so sick of this narrative," Davis began. "I worked on this movie. The story being spun of us being overworked and surrounded by unsafe, chaotic conditions is bulls**t."

Davis defended the producers of Rust, stating, "Concerns were heard and addressed."

She then claimed that the crew had a "union rep" who advised production to "not give into the camera crew," adding that they were "given permission to hire off" of a union overflow list, after sharing that the camera crew started demanding things that the union did not require.

Too Early to Press Charges

Mendoza, the Santa Fe County Sheriff, said that it was "too early" to talk about possible charges being filed. "The investigation will continue and if the Sheriff's Office determines during our investigation that a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed," he told the press.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed's Lawyers Insist She Did Firearms Training With Actors On Set

On Nov. 4, the armorer's lawyer, Bowles, told ET in a statement that "Hannah was incredibly safety conscious and took her job very seriously from the moment she started on October 4th."

"She did firearms training for the actors as well as Mr. Baldwin, she fought for more training days and she regularly emphasized to never point a firearm at a person. Never in a million years did Hannah think that live rounds could have been in the 'dummy' Round box," reads the statement. "Who put those in there and why is the central question. Hannah kept guns locked up, including throughout lunch on the day in question, and she instructed her department to watch the cart containing the guns when she was pulled away for her other duties or on a lunch break. Hannah did everything in her power to ensure a safe set."

Bowles is adamant that the armorer "inspected the rounds that she loaded into the firearms that day," and "did again right before handing the firearm to Mr. Halls, by spinning the cylinder and showing him all of the rounds and then handing him the firearm."

The statement concludes, "No one could have anticipated or thought that someone would introduce live rounds into this set."


For more on this story, watch the video below.

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