The producers on Rust have confirmed that production will remain halted until the investigation into the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins on set in New Mexico is complete.
A letter to crew sent on Sunday said the move was a “pause rather than an end”. The producers also expressed their sadness over Hutchins’s death and added they were supporting director Joel Souza, who was standing behind the cinematographer and injured in the shoulder. He has been released from hospital.
Meanwhile reports emerged on Monday evening (October 25) that according to an anonymous producer from 2019 production Freedom’s Path, Rust assistant director Dave Halls was fired when a prop gun discharged and a crew member received minor injuries. That film is scheduled to open in 2022.
Investigators on the Rust tragedy have been gathering evidence since Friday when Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office issued a pair of warrants. The procedural documents also provide what investigators believe to be the timeline of events surrounding Thursday’s (October 21) tragedy.
According to the warrant Halls took one of three prop guns laid out by the production’s armourer Hannah Gutierrez Reed. Halls then handed the gun to Baldwin who was in costume on the church set and the assistant director, believing the gun did not contain any live rounds, shouted “Cold gun”.
Baldwin then discharged the prop gun and it hit Hutchins in the chest and Souza behind her. After the incident Reed removed the casing and gave the gun to police when they arrived on the scene.
A statement given by Souza on Friday revealed the work day had begun at 6.30am on Thursday although filming started later after some camera crew had quit and the production only had one camera as it looked for a replacement camera crew.
There was no recording of the incident however Souza said Baldwin was sat against a pew rehearsing a cross draw of the gun in which he pointed the weapon at the camera. Souza believed the prop gun did not contain live ammunition when he explained the safety announcements and had heard Halls call “Cold gun”.
Souza said it was his understanding people were not checked for live ammunition prior to or after a scene but weapons were checked and said live ammunition should never be near the scene.
He recalled the set broke for lunch around 12.30 and actors were shuttled away from the set to eat. When they returned he did not know if the weapons had been checked in the interim. Baldwin was back at the pew practising the cross draw when Souza heard a whipping sound then a loud pop. Hutchins complained of stomach pain shortly before she fell backwards and Souza was bleeding from his shoulder and saw there was blood on Hutchins.
The warrant also contained a statement from the camera operator Reid Russell. He said Thursday morning was busy as six camera crew had quit over matters related to compensation and accommodation and had sent a letter outlining their concerns to the producers.
He recalled Halls shouting “cold gun” before giving the weapon to Baldwin, who was explaining to Souza and Hutchins how he would draw the weapon after they had moved the camera to a different set-up. Then Russell heard a loud bang.
He said people had been getting along at the time and noted Baldwin was very careful with the firearm and had ensured everything was safe when he discharged the gun on a previous occasion.
The producers of Rust are making a donation to the Halyna Hutchins Scholarship Fund established by Hutchins’s family and will match any donations by the crew. Separately, a vigil took place on Sunday night outside the Los Angeles local union office of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).