Ukraine-born, 42-year-old director of photography, Helena Hutchins, was shot in the chest and died shortly after the accident Thursday in New Mexico. Director Joel Sousa, 48, who was behind her, was injured and taken to hospital and discharged from hospital.
Baldwin, who voluntarily cooperated, was questioned by the police, but no charges were brought against the actor.
Souza said Saturday that he was shocked by the loss of his friend and colleague. “She was kind, energetic, incredibly talented (…) and she always pushed me to be better,” she said, speaking to Deadline.
Local media reported that the pistol, which was supposed to have a “blank” bullet (a modified bullet used in shooting), was instead live ammunition, according to the statement the mayor’s office filed for a search warrant.
According to one statement, assistant director Dave Holz, identified as the man who handed the gun to Baldwin, yelled a “cold gun” as he did so. This expression is used in the film industry to indicate that Venice has only one “empty”. The court document, obtained by AFP, says Holes did not know the gun was loaded.
Police focus on the exact sequence of events that allowed live ammunition to be introduced in the shooting of “Rust,” a “Western” movie set in the 19th century.
On the 911 phone call, immediately after the shooting, the uproar and anger that pervaded the shooting could be heard.
“We have two people who were accidentally shot with a prop gun; we need help immediately,” says the person calling a police officer.
“Was it loaded with a real bullet?” asks the operator. The caller answers “No… I can’t tell”. He added, “This son of a bitch is supposed to be checking the weapons and is responsible for what happens on the set.”
The Gun Handling Safety Guidelines, which are detailed by the Actors Rights Association, specify that “all firearms reloading must be performed by the property owner, gunsmith, or experienced persons acting under their direct supervision.”
The guidelines recommend: “Before each use, make sure the weapon has been spot tested and then test it yourself. Note how the group design manager checks the cylinders and cylinder to ensure there are no foreign objects or fake bullets inside.”
Baldwin said Friday that he is devastated and is cooperating fully with the investigation into “how this tragedy occurred.”
The actor shared an article in specialist magazine Variety titled “Alec Baldwin received a safe scenography weapon before the fatal shot, according to an under oath statement.”
The gun and two others were used by the film’s gunsmith, 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez Reid, daughter of Thiel Reed, a well-known gunsmith in the film industry.
In a podcast in September, young Gutierrez Reid said she felt uneasy about taking on the role of lead gunsmith for the first time in her previous movie “The Old Way.”
She said on the “Vozes do Oeste” podcast, before adding, “I was so nervous at first, I almost took the job because I wasn’t sure I was ready,” before adding, “But when I did, everything went really well.”
It has not yet been possible to contact Halls and Gutiérrez-Reed for a reaction.
Prosecutor Mary Carmack Altois said in a statement Friday that the case is in a preliminary stage and added: “At this time, we do not know whether charges will be brought.”
The Los Angeles Times, citing unnamed sources, reported that at least three failures had occurred with the scenography pistol prior to the fatal accident and that some team members had protested the working conditions.
The newspaper reported that at least one photographer sent a message to the production manager saying, “There were already three accidental shots. This is very unsafe.”
Rust Movie Productions said in a statement it was not aware of any “official complaints” but would “continue to cooperate with Santa Fe authorities.” The producer also said it was conducting an internal investigation.
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