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Authorities say movie star Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed the director of photography and wounded the director during the filming of a Western on a set outside Santa Fe on Thursday afternoon.
Halyna Hutchins, the 42-year-old director of photography, died after she was airlifted to a hospital and 48-year-old Joel Souza, the director, was undergoing treatment, said Juan Rios, a spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s investigators are still trying to figure out what went wrong.
“This investigation remains open and active,” Rios said. “No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”
Baldwin, 68, appeared distraught following the incident. Photos by the Santa Fe New Mexican show the actor in a parking lot talking on the phone and bent over, his hands on his knees, with deputy vehicles in the foreground. The New Mexico Film Office declined to comment because it’s an active investigation. A spokesperson for Baldwin could not be reached for comment.
The crew was filming the movie “Rust” at the Bonanza Creek Ranch at the time of the incident, which comes less than a week after the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for better safety measures and working conditions.
Rios said deputies responded at 1:50 p.m. to the movie set after 911 calls came in of a person being shot on set.
“According to investigators it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged,” he said in the initial release. “Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.”
Rios said Hutchins was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she was pronounced dead. He said Souza was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe and is “receiving emergency care.”
Baldwin posted a photo to Instagram hours before the incident, showing him clad in a Western getup with fake blood leaking through his shirt.
“Back to in person at the office. Blimey…it’s exhausting,” he captioned the photo.
Baldwin made local news on Oct. 11 when he made an Instagram post of himself waltzing around a bathroom at the Albuquerque International Sunport and remarking on its cleanliness.
Hutchins and Baldwin in recent days posted about standing in solidarity with the film union with a photo of the cast and crew of “Rust” – many of them dressed up – in front of an Old West building.
Hutchins’ Instagram was filled with videos of her riding horses at Bonanza Creek and the amber hues of the New Mexico sky.
“Incredible sky of New Mexico at Bonanza Creek Ranch,” she captioned a photo of a classic New Mexico sunset – framed by the mountains and old Western-style buildings. “One of the best parts of shooting a western are mornings like this!” she captioned a photo of people silhouetted against a desert sunrise.
The movie, produced by Baldwin, also stars Baldwin and Jensen Ackles among others.
It tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who must fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather, played by Baldwin, after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.
A release from the New Mexico Film Office said filming for “Rust” was set to continue into early November.
Baldwin is a household name and an A-list star credited with nearly 150 roles in films and TV shows dating back to the early 1980s, according to IMDB. He won critical acclaim as Jack Donaghy on the award-winning NBC sitcom “30 Rock.”
People took to social media to mourn the loss of Hutchins and express disbelief.
“How on earth could this have happened?” Piers Morgan tweeted beside photos of a distraught Baldwin.
Caitie Delaney, a TV writer, tweeted, “Like obviously it’s the story but it is really not fair to have Alec Baldwin be the face of this tragedy. He wasn’t in charge of loading that gun. Safety on set needs to be taken so much more seriously.”
Baldwin had recently taken to Instagram to voice his support for the film union asking for more safety on set. When the strike was looming, he encouraged them to strike if it was the only way to get what they wanted.
“Do what you got to do, you’ve got to fight, because I’ll tell you something about the executives from these companies – film and TV – they don’t give a (expletive) about you… about anything,” he said in the video.
President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists issued a statement over Facebook saying the union was “devastated by this tragic news.”
“This is still an active investigation and we do not yet have all the facts,” the statement read. “We will continue to work with production, the other unions, and the authorities to investigate this incident and to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again.”