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Rust Shooting Tragedy: Court Documents Reveal New Chilling Details About Fatal On-Set Accident

affadavit reveals new details of tragic rust shooting

More details have emerged about the fatal accident on set of the Western movie Rust.

As we’ve been reporting, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza injured when a prop gun handled by Alec Baldwin fired during a rehearsal. The shooting sent a shockwave through Hollywood and an investigation immediately opened into how such a tragedy could have occurred.

Related: Halyna’s Dad Says He Doesn’t Blame Alec Baldwin For Fatal Shooting

On Sunday, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office released an affidavit for a search warrant that revealed new details about the horrific incident. Speaking with the wounded director, authorities reported that Souza recalled Baldwin “sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw.” (A cross draw “is when a shooter pulls the weapon from a holster on the opposite side of the body from the draw hand,” per CNN.)

The director told detectives that “he was looking over the shoulder of Halyna when he heard what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop.” The affidavit stated:

“Joel then vaguely remembers Halyna complaining about her stomach and grabbing her midsection. Joel also said Halyna began to stumble backwards and she was assisted to the ground. … Joel explained that he was bleeding from his shoulder and he could see blood on Halyna.”

There have been conflicting reports as to whether there is footage of the shooting. The director claimed they were not recording at the time of the incident, and acknowledged that the crew walkout earlier in the day had put them behind schedule:

“During the morning hours, the day started off late due to a camera crew that had quit and they had to find another camera crew to help film the movie. [Souza] said once they hired another camera crew to assist, the day was taking longer than usual because they only had one camera to do the filming.”

Souza also confirmed that he heard the term “cold gun” on set (reportedly called by first AD Dave Halls), which meant there should have been no ammunition in the weapon. Per CNN, three people had been handling firearms on Rust’s set, their procedure being that the armorer and first assistant director (Halls) would check the guns and then give them to the actor. Souza was apparently “unaware of anyone on set being checked to see if they had live ammunition on them before or after the scenes were filmed,” according to the outlet.

The affidavit stated:

“The only thing checked are the firearms to avoid live ammunition being in them. Joel (Souza) stated there should never be live rounds whatsoever near or around the scene.”

Law enforcement also interviewed camera operator Reid Russell, who was standing next to Halyna and Joel at the time of the shooting. He reported that the 30 Rock star “had been very careful” with the film’s firearms and had previously “made sure it was safe and that a child wasn’t near him when they were discharging a firearm during that scene.”

In Russell’s recollection:

“[Russell] said while preparing, there was a shadow coming from the outside light and they had to move the camera at a different angle from Alec. … He said Alec was trying to explain how he was going to draw out the firearm and where his arm would be at when the firearm was pulled from the holster. … [Russell] was not sure why the firearm was discharged and just remembered the loud bang from the firearm.”

Related: 911 Call Reveals Rust Script Supervisor Pleading For Help ‘Immediately’

After the gun went off, he remembered:

“[Russel] said after the firearm was discharged, he remembered [Souza] having blood on his person, and [Hutchins] speaking and saying she couldn’t feel her legs. … [Russel] stated once [Hutchins] was on the ground, medics began to treat her injury as she was bleeding while on the floor of the building they were in.”

So awful.

The investigation into this terrible ordeal is ongoing. CNN reported that the search warrant also “sought to recover any footage, video cameras, computer equipment and memory cards used by cameras on the set,” so if there is any recording of the incident — or further proof of an unsafe work environment — it should come to light soon.

We will continue to follow these updates and keep Halyna and her family in our thoughts.

[Image via Lu Chau/FayesVision/WENN & NBC News/Today/YouTube]

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Oct 25, 2021 09:10am PDT