Vigil held for Halyna Hutchins

October 24, 2021
Candles are placed around signs to honor cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a candlelight vigil in Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was remembered by fellow crew members and supporters Saturday night with a candlelight vigil in Albuquerque, New Mexico, about one hour south of where “Rust,” the Western she died making, was in production. 

On Friday, court records released found an assistant director unwittingly handed Alec Baldwin a loaded weapon and told him it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot Hutchins on theBonanza Creek Ranch set.

No charges have been filed.

“Cold gun,” the assistant director announced, according to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court and obtained by The Associated Press.

Instead, the gun was loaded with live rounds, and when Baldwin pulled the trigger Thursday on the set of the Western, he killed Hutchins. Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, was wounded, the records said.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office obtained the warrant Friday so investigators could document the scene at the ranch outside Santa Fe where the shooting took place. They sought Baldwin’s blood-stained costume as evidence, as well as the weapon that was fired, other prop guns and ammunition, and any footage that might exist.

Assistant directorDave Halls unaware gun was loaded with live rounds, but allegedly had history of ‘unsafe’ practices

The shooting occurred around 1:50 p.m. local time on the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

“According to investigators it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged,” a Thursday release from the sheriff’s office said. “Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.” 

The gun was one of three that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, had set on a cart outside the wooden structure where a scene was being acted, according to the records. Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds, a detective wrote in the search warrant application.

It was unclear how many rounds were fired.

Complaints had previously been made that Halls allowed unsafe practices on productions, according to a prop maker who worked with him on 2019’s “Into the Dark” anthology series. 

Maggie Goll, an IATSE Local 44 prop maker, told CNN and NBC News in a statement on Saturday that Halls did not maintain a safe working environment and alleged that in one instance, he attempted to keep filming after a licensed pyrotechnician was injured on the set.

USA TODAY was unable to locate a representative for Halls or Gutierrez, whose social media accounts have been disabled.

The film’s script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, said she was standing next to Hutchins when she was shot.

“I ran out and called 911 and said ‘Bring everybody, send everybody,’” Mitchell told The Associated Press. 

Mitchell said she and other crew members were attending a private memorial service Friday night in Santa Fe. “This woman is gone at the beginning of her career. She was an extraordinary, rare, very rare woman,” Mitchell said.

Who is Hannah Gutierrez? 

Gutierrez was the armorer on duty when the incident occurred. According to court records, she set three guns on a cart before filming, one of which was the one that killed Hutchins. 

After the shooting occurred Gutierrez, who also goes by Hannah Reed, removed a shell casing from the gun and turned the weapon over to police when they arrived, the court records say.

Before working on the set of “Rust,” Gutierrez experienced her first job as head armorer on the set of upcoming Nicolas Cage movie “The Old Way.” She talked about her experience doing the job in September on an Arizona-based podcast  “Voices of the West.” 

“I was really nervous about it at first and I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready but doing it, like, it went really smoothly,” she said of the Montana-based film.

Gutierrez is the daughter of Thell Reed, a quick-draw exhibition shooter and gun coach for stars who worked on films such as “Tombstone” and “The Quick and the Dead,” according to his IMDB profile. Gutierrez said she grew up around guns and her father had been teaching her a little bit about firearms since she was a teenager.

Vigil honors Hutchins ‘a leader among young female cinematographers’

At a candlelight vigil for Hutchins held on Saturday night in Albuquerque, International Cinematographers Guild President John Lindley told the crowd of several hundred who had gathered that the late cinematographer’s husband wanted to be there, but couldn’t. Matthew Hutchins, who spoke publicly for the first time Friday, asked Lindley to read a message from him:

“Helena inspired us all with her passion and vision,”Matthew Hutchins wrote. “Our loss is enormous and we will need time to process our grief. The outpouring of sympathy from her many friends has been overwhelming. … Please take time to remember her and we will all work together to honor her memory and emulate her determination and her creativity.”

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 480 President Liz Pecos called Hutchins her “union sister” and “a leader among young female cinematographers.”

“We share the outrage and shock at her life being cut short in such a devastating way. Her death shouldn’t have happened,” Pecos said. “Everyone deserves to go to work knowing they’ll be able to return home safely. This has shaken all of us to the very core. May her memory be eternal and her life not lived in vein.”

Baldwin expresses sorrow, is free to travel

On Friday morning, Baldwin spoke out about the “tragic” news and confirmed he is “fully cooperating” with the ongoing investigation. 

“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” he said in a series of tweets Friday.

“I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family.”

On Friday night, Baldwin shared a story from ‘Variety’ with the headline, ‘Alec Baldwin Was Told Prop Gun Was Safe Before Fatal Shooting, Affidavit Says’ on his Twitter account.

No immediate charges were filed, and sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said Baldwin was permitted to travel.

“He’s a free man,” Rios said.

How can a prop gun kill someone? How the Alec Baldwin tragedy was possible

‘Rust’ crew members had walked off set to protest working conditions

Seven crew members reportedly walked off the set of “Rust” in protest of working conditions hours before Hutchins was killed.

One camera crew member anonymously told The Associated Press that those working on the upcoming Western raised concerns about several problems, ranging from safety procedures to their housing accommodations. Rust Movie Productions did not answer AP’s emails Friday and Saturday seeking comment. 

 The Los Angeles Times and Deadline reported that, hours before the fatal incident, members of the “Rust” camera crew walked off the job in protest and, per the LA Times, were replaced with nonunion crew members soon after. The outlets also noted at least two previous misfires on a prop gun on set days before.

In a statement to the LA Times and Deadline, Rust Movie Productions LLC said the “safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.” 

IATSE Local 44, a union of prop makers and other craft persons who work within the entertainment industry, sent an message to their members Thursday that was obtained by USA TODAY, confirming that no Local 44 members were on set at the time of the shooting. 

Who was killed by the prop gun?

Hutchins was airlifted to the hospital after being shot by Baldwin. She was later pronounced dead by medical personnel at University of New Mexico Hospital, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. She was 42. 

Born in Ukraine, Hutchins previously served as director of cinematography for the 2020 action film “Archenemy,” starring Joe Manganiello, who paid tribute to the “absolutely incredible talent” on Thursday.

‘My heart is broken’:Alec Baldwin says he’s ‘fully cooperating’ after deadly prop gun incident

“I was so lucky to have had @halynahutchins as my DP on Archenemy,” he wrote on Instagram. “This is a horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to her family and especially to her son. I am so sad today for everyone who knew her and worked with her.”

According to her website, she grew up on the Soviet base in the Arctic Circle and was “surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines.” She received a graduate degree in international journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine, worked on British documentary productions in Europe and graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015. She was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019. Hutchins is survived by her husband, Matthew Hutchins, with whom she had a son.

‘Horrifying’:Halyna Hutchins killed after prop gun misfire; Joe Manganiello, more pay tribute

Who was injured?

The director, 48-year-old Joel Souza, was transported via ambulance to Christus St. Vincent’s hospital and later was released, according to his rep Matt DelPiano.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement: “We are devastated by this tragic news. Our hearts go out to the family of Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins who has passed away and to Director Joel Souza who is injured and hospitalized.”

Souza last directed 2019’s “Crown Vic,” a feature starring Bridget Moynahan and Thomas Jane that was also produced by Baldwin. His previous credits include 2015’s “Ghost Squad” and 2017’s “Break Night.”

Has prop gun misfiring happened before?

There have been scores of actors and crew members injured or killed on past movie sets like Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, who was shot to death on the set of “The Crow” in 1993. The gun was intended to have fired a blank, but an autopsy found a bullet lodged near his spine.

Earlier in 1984, Jon-Erik Hexum, 26, died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette on the set of the TV series ″Cover Up.″ 

In response to Thursday’s on-set incident, the official account of Brandon Lee – run by his sister, Shannon Lee – wrote: “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.”

‘Rust’ shooting:Prop gun death at Alec Baldwin film isn’t the first accident on a movie set

‘No one should ever be killed’ by prop:Alec Baldwin mishap surfaces Brandon Lee death

Will ‘Rust’ continue filming?

Filming for “Rust” was set to continue into early November, according to a news release from the New Mexico Film Office. 

However, production has been halted amid the ongoing investigation, and “the safety of our cast and crew remains our top priority,” according to reports. 

“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,” Rust Movie Productions LLC, said in a statement obtained by Deadline and the New York Times. “We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”

What is the movie ‘Rust’ about?

The movie “Rust” 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 teen goes on the run with his long estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after he’s sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.

Contributing: Rasha Ali, Charles Trepany, Laura Trujillo a, Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press

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