EXCLUSIVE: Rust director Joel Souza, who was injured and hospitalized from a gunshot wound on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust, has issued a statement to Deadline in the wake of the tragic event which took the life of Halyna Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer.
Souza told us, “I am gutted by the loss of my friend and colleague, Halyna. She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch, and always pushed me to be better.”
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“My thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time,” he continued, “I am humbled and grateful by the outpouring of affection we have received from our filmmaking community, the people of Santa Fe, and the hundreds of strangers who have reached out….. It will surely aid in my recovery.”
Souza was released from the hospital on Friday after being reportedly shot in the shoulder from a prop firearm fired by Baldwin during the production of Rust at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, outside of Santa Fe, NM. According to the Santa Fe Sherriff’s department, Souza was transported by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for his injuries. Hutchins was transported to the University of New Mexico hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The detailed affidavit released yesterday claimed that Baldwin was handed one of a trio of prop guns on a nearby cart by an assistant director, and told the prop was a “cold gun” that did not have any live rounds in it.
Indicating that all three prop guns were prepped by the on-set armorer, the AD said in the report from Detective Joel Cano that he “did not know live rounds were in the prop gun.” A search warrant is out from the Santa Fe Sherriff’s office as to whether footage of the fatal accident exists. We understand that the $7M production of Rust was 50% completed at the time of the tragic incident.
Souza, in addition to directing, wrote Rust, off a story he cowrote with Baldwin. Production has closed down for an underdetermined amount of time while an internal investigation is conducted in the aftermath of Hutchins’ death and Souza’s injury.
In addition to the Sheriff’s Department, which has yet to determine if there’s any people of interest in their investigation, the Rust tragedy is also being investigated by the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, which can impose civil penalties for workplace accidents, even if law enforcement determines that no crime occurred.
New Mexico’s top prosecutor, First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, told Deadline that “This case is still in its preliminary states of investigation,” and that, “At this time, we do not know if charges will be filed. We will look into all facts and evidence of the case with great discretion and have further information at a later time.”
The admission of “live rounds” in Det. Cano’s affidavit yesterday marked a pivot from earlier Friday for the police. Early Friday AM, the Sheriff’s Office declared “that hasn’t been determined by us as of yet” after West Coast IATSE Local 44 told its members that “a live single round was accidentally fired on set.”
Sante Fe Sheriff spokesman Rios said that the department expects “to have more information next week as our investigation continues.”
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