Accessibility links

Breaking News

Actor Alec Baldwin Told Prop Gun Safe Before Shooting That Killed Ukrainian-Born Cinematographer

Actor Alec Baldwin, who fired a prop gun during rehearsal on a movie set, killing Ukrainian-born cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. (file photo)
Actor Alec Baldwin, who fired a prop gun during rehearsal on a movie set, killing Ukrainian-born cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. (file photo)

The gun that actor Alec Baldwin fired on the set of a movie, killing Ukrainian-born cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, was loaded with live rounds, according to court records made public on October 22.

An assistant director handed Baldwin the loaded gun and told him it was safe to use in the moments before he fatally shot Hutchins.

The assistant director used the words “cold gun,” indicating it was safe, when he handed the weapon to Baldwin, according to court documents filed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and quoted by news agencies.

The assistant director did not know the gun contained live rounds, Santa Fe Sheriff's Department Detective Joel Cano said in the documents, which were filed in support of a search warrant request.

The shot hit Hutchins in the chest. Director Joel Souza, who was behind her, was hit in the shoulder, according to the documents. It was unclear how many rounds were fired.

Hutchins died of her wounds, and Souza was injured but has since been released from the hospital.

Investigators are seeking to document the scene at the ranch in the U.S. state of New Mexico where the shooting took place and examine the clothing worn by Baldwin along with firearms, documentation, ammunition, and cameras from the scene.

The shooting took place during a rehearsal for a movie titled Rust, a Western starring Baldwin, but it was unclear whether the scene has been filmed.

In a series of messages on Twitter, Baldwin said there were no words to convey his “shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation.”

No charges have been filed.

Hutchins, 42, was a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute and was named a rising star by American Cinematographer in 2019.

Her website says she was born in Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle "surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines."

She held a graduate degree in International Journalism from Kyiv National University and had previously worked as an investigative journalist with British documentary productions in Europe.

Hutchins was director of photography on the 2020 action film Archenemy, a police drama. Joe Manganiello, who starred in Archenemy, called her “an incredible talent” and “a great person” on his Instagram account.

“She had such an eye and a visual style, she was the kind of cinematographer that you wanted to see succeed because you wanted to see what she could pull off next,” he said.

The production of Rust was immediately halted after the shooting.

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 the 1880s in the U.S. state of Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website.

The teen goes on the run with his estranged grandfather, the character played by Baldwin, after the boy is sentenced to be hanged for the accidental killing of a local rancher.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.