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Actor Alec Baldwin “discharged” a prop gun and killed a cinematographer and injured the director working on his new movie Rust, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and a union representing cinematographers.
The incident happened around 1:50 p.m. Thursday on the New Mexico set of an independent Western set in the 1880s, which Baldwin, 68, was both starring in and producing. After being injured, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque, where she died from her injuries, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said.
Joel Souza, the 48-year-old director, received emergency treatment for his injuries at a hospital in Santa Fe, the sheriff’s office said.
The incident happened while a scene was being either rehearsed or filmed, according to the New York Times. “We’re trying to determine right now how and what type of projectile was used in the firearm,” Juan Rios, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, told the New York Times.
Though accidents involving guns during film and TV production are rare, they have happened in the past.
The most famous example of a gun accident on a movie set was the death of actor Brandon Lee in 1993, while he was filming the fantasy movie The Crow in North Carolina. The scene was supposed to show Lee being shot to death, but though the prop gun used was supposed to fire blanks, an autopsy revealed that Lee had been killed with a .44-caliber bullet.
Police ruled Lee’s death to be the result of negligence, and Lee’s mother later settled a negligence lawsuit with the makers of the film. On Thursday, Lee’s sister Shannon, who operates a Twitter account in memory of her brother, tweeted her condolences.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust,’” Shannon Lee tweeted. “No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”
In 1984, actor Jon Erik-Hexum was filming a scene on the show Cover Up where he was playing Russian roulette, when he shot himself in the head with a blank-loaded pistol—which can still be lethal in certain situations—and died.
There have been close calls as well involving guns on film sets. While filming his iconic role as John Rambo in First Blood, Sylvester Stallone was injured by a gun squib, and later said he initially thought that he had lost his thumb. And during the filming of Scarface, lead actor Al Pacino was put out of commission for two weeks after burning himself by touching the barrel of a gun that had just been fired, director Brian De Palma said in a 2016 documentary about his career.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation into the shooting on the set of Rust remains “open and active,” and that witnesses are being interviewed. No charges have been filed as of yet.
Hutchins’ last Instagram post from earlier this week was a video showing her and other crew members riding a horse around the ranch. “One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off,” Hutchins captioned the post.
The International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600, of which Hutchins was a member, issued a statement calling the news of Hutchins’ death “devastating.”
“The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event,” Guild president John Lindley and executive director Rebecca Rhine said in a statement. “This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our Guild’s family.”
The movie production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, said that it had “halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating” with the investigation.”
“The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones,” the company said in a statement to the New York Times. “We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”