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'Avoidable tragedy': Brandon Lee's fiancee breaks silence after similar 'Rust' shooting death

·4 min read

Actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun in an accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured the director on the New Mexico set of the movie "Rust," authorities said Thursday. That tragedy was eerily reminiscent of Brandon Lee's death in 1993.

Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, died in March 1993 at age 28 after he was accidentally wounded by a prop gun on the film set of "The Crow."

Lee's fiancee Eliza Hutton broke her silence on Lee's fatal accident for the first time on Monday following Hutchins' death, describing both accidents as an "avoidable tragedy."

"Twenty eight years ago, I was shattered by the shock and grief of losing the love of my life, Brandon Lee, so senselessly," Hutton told People. "My heart aches again now for Halyna Hutchins' husband and son, and for all those left in the wake of this avoidable tragedy."

Hutton continued: "I urge those in positions to make change to consider alternatives to real guns on sets."

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."

Movie sets: Prop gun death at Alec Baldwin film 'Rust' isn't the first accident

Authorities: Alec Baldwin discharged prop gun in incident that killed cinematographer, injured director

Who was Brandon Lee?

The actor, 28 years old at the time of his death, was best known as the son of kung fu star Bruce Lee. He had been in several low-budget movies before landing his breakthrough role as the star of "The Crow," which eventually came out in 1994.

Lee's character in the gothic superhero movie, Eric Draven, was described as a murdered rock musician brought back from the grave who adopts the persona of a night bird to avenge his own and his girlfriend’s untimely deaths. The film went on to gross $94 million.

Lee was following in his father's footsteps by training in martial arts and studying acting at Emerson College and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

He got engaged to Hutton in October 1992. The two had plans to marry in April 1993 after Lee finished shooting "The Crow," according to People.

What happened in Brandon Lee's death?

After Lee's death on March 31, 1993, little information was released. It was believed that a small explosive charge used to stimulate gunfire on the set of "The Crow" in Wilmington, N.C., led to Lee's death.

During filming, actor Michael Massee shot a revolver at Lee's character as he walks into the room. Lee collapsed backward, and when he didn't stand up, the crew thought he was still acting. Lee was rushed to the hospital, and after six hours of emergency surgery, he was pronounced dead.

It was later revealed through the autopsy that Lee's death was the result of a .44-caliber bullet discovered near Lee's spine. That drew criticism of the movie set's safety. While the gun contained blank ammunition, a lethal obstruction had been lodged in the barrel during the filming of another scene weeks before.

Lee's mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, sued for negligence four months after her son's death. Cadwell alleged that "crew members ran out of dummy bullets and improperly manufactured their own from live ammunition. During a test firing of the dummy ammunition, a bullet tip wound up in the barrel of the handgun."

District Attorney Jerry Spivey announced after an investigation in April 1993 that no criminal charges would be filed and that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing despite the movie crew's negligence.

The spooky part of Lee's death

A scene from Bruce Lee's Hong Kong martial arts film "Game of Death," made in 1972 and released in 1978, has haunting similarities to his son's death.

“Gentlemen, these are blanks,” a man declares in the scene emulating a movie set. “Only aim upward. There’s a wad of paper that comes out and can injure someone.”

Bruce Lee in the 1973 film "Enter the Dragon."
Bruce Lee in the 1973 film "Enter the Dragon."

Meanwhile, a hit man is standing among the "actors" and inserts a real bullet into the chamber of the gun. Bruce Lee's character, Billy Lo, is shot in mid-acrobatic kick and falls to the ground.

Bruce Lee died at 32 in his apartment in 1973. An autopsy showed that his brain had severely swollen and was the cause of death.

Contributing: Cydney Henderson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brandon Lee's fiancee speaks out after Alec Baldwin prop gun shooting

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