Alec Baldwin was practicing unholstering and aiming a revolver at the camera on the Rust movie set when the gun discharged, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, Souza and camera operator Reid Russell told a Santa Fe sheriff's detective, according to an affidavit for a search warrant released Sunday. Souza said he was standing behind Hutchins when he heard "what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop," then recalled hearing Hutchins "complaining about her stomach and grabbing her midsection" before being lowered to the ground.
Souza said he heard somebody identifying the weapon as a "cold gun," meaning it should have been empty of live rounds. Assistant director Dave Halls, Baldwin, and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed were the only people handling the revolver, the affidavit says, and Halls was the one who yelled "cold gun" and handed Baldwin one of three prop guns set on a table outside the set by Gutierrez Reed, believing it had no live rounds loaded.
"Joel said as far as he knows, no one gets checked for live ammunition on their person prior and after the scenes are being filmed," the affidavit said. "The only thing checked are the firearms to avoid live ammunition being in them. Joel stated there should never be live rounds whatsoever, near or around the scene."
Souza and Russell both told the sheriff's detective that after camera operators walked off the Rust set, citing housing and pay issues, they were down to one camera, and it was not filming when Baldwin's gun discharged. Two crew members told the Los Angeles Times that less than a week before the fatal shooting, a stunt double had fired two accidental prop gun discharges after being told the gun was "cold." Russell said Baldwin "had been very careful" with firearms on set.
People who worked with Halls told CNN he had been the subject of safety complaints on two productions in 2019, including a disregard for safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics. The scene being rehearsed Thursday involved a close-up of the prop gun, The Wall Street Journal reports.
"We've all seen the very famous shots in films where you get that dramatic effect of a gun being pointed at you, the audience, and of course, it's being pointed toward the camera," Steven Hall, a veteran second unit director and cinematographer, tells The Associated Press.