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Actor Alec Baldwin attends a news conference at United Nations headquarters in New York City on Sept. 21, 2015.

Actor Alec Baldwin attends a news conference at United Nations headquarters in New York City on Sept. 21, 2015. A prop firearm discharged by Baldwin, who is starring and producing a Western movie, killed his director of photography and injured the director on Thursday at the movie set outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Seth Wenig / AP)

 By The Associated Press  October 22, 2021 at 3:09am

Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a movie set and killed the cinematographer, authorities announced late Thursday. The director of the Western being filmed on the southern outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, was wounded, and authorities are investigating what happened.

Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer on the movie “Rust,” and director Joel Souza were shot Thursday on the rustic film set in the desert, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.

A representative of Baldwin claimed there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks, though a charge without a metal projectile is unlikely to kill at a moderate distance.

Sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said detectives were investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported the 63-year-old Baldwin was seen Thursday outside the sheriff’s office in tears but attempts to get a comment from him were unsuccessful.

Another photo of Baldwin, outside sheriff’s office in Santa Fe. Photo: Jim Weber, The New Mexicanhttps://t.co/I7re4PenOE pic.twitter.com/DZHUGNlsoz

— Rick Folbaum (@RickFolbaum) October 22, 2021

Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel, the sheriff’s department said.

Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he is undergoing treatment.

“The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event,” International Cinematographers Guild president John Lindley and executive director Rebecca Rhine said in a statement.

Sheriff’s deputies responded about 2 p.m. to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls described a person being shot on set, said Rios, the sheriff’s spokesman. The ranch has been used in dozens of films, including the recent Tom Hanks Western “News of the World.”

“This investigation remains open and active,” Rios said in a statement. “No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”

Hutchins, a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute, worked as director of photography on the 2020 action film “Archenemy,” starring Joe Manganiello. She was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019.

“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” said “Archenemy” director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter. “She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”

I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set. She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/vcdFqHsGA0

— Adam Egypt Mortimer (@adamegypt) October 22, 2021

Manganiello called Hutchins “an incredible talent” and “a great person” on his Instagram account. He said he was lucky to have worked with her.

Sick and devastated to hear that my friend and rockstar cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on set today in New Mexico. I don’t have words to describe this tragedy. I want answers. I want her family to somehow find peace among this horrific, horrific loss. pic.twitter.com/ElAQNMuQvR

— 𝖊𝖑𝖑𝖊 𝖘𝖕𝖎𝖉𝖊𝖗 🕷️🕸️ (@elleschneider) October 22, 2021

Baldwin teamed up as a producer previously with Souza on the 2019 film “Crown Vic,” which starred Thomas Jane as a veteran Los Angeles police officer on a manhunt for two violent bank robbers. Souza’s first credited film, 2010’s “Hanna’s Gold,” was a treasure hunt adventure featuring Luke Perry.

Production was halted on “Rust.” The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to 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.

In 1993, Brandon Lee, 28, son of the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee, died after being hit by a .44-caliber slug while filming a death scene for the movie “The Crow.” The gun was supposed to have fired a blank, but an autopsy turned up a bullet lodged near his spine.

A Twitter account run by Lee’s sister Shannon said: “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust.’ No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”

In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum on the set of the television series “Cover Up.”

The liberal Baldwin has been a vocal proponent of gun control and in 2018 was one of the leaders of an effort to fight the National Rifle Association, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A letter at the time from the No Rifle Association initiative said it would and “rais[e] the voices of all victims of gun violence” and told the NRA, “We’re going to make sure the whole world sees your bloody hands.”

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.

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