Host Alec Baldwin arrives at the 2nd Annual NFL Honors in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 2, 2013. Picture: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Host Alec Baldwin arrives at the 2nd Annual NFL Honors in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 2, 2013. Picture: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer and wounded a director when he discharged a prop gun on a movie set in New Mexico on Thursday, authorities said.

Baldwin shot Halyna Hutchins, the photography director of Rust, and Joel Souza, the film’s director, at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location south of Santa Fe, according to the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department.

Hutchins was taken by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Souza was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical centre. The severity of his injuries wasn’t immediately known.

Actress Frances Fisher said on Twitter that “Souza texted me that he’s out of hospital.” Asked whether Souza had been discharged, medical centre spokesperson Arturo Delgado said he wasn’t allowed to release information about patients.

The sheriff’s office said no charges have been filed and they are investigating the shooting and interviewing witnesses. “The investigation remains open and active,” it said in a statement.

Entertainment news site Deadline cited a source in the sheriff’s office as saying that Baldwin was questioned by investigators and later released.

Baldwin went to the sheriff's office willingly and provided a statement to investigators, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported, citing spokesperson Juan Rios.

Deputies were still trying to determine whether what happened was an accident, the newspaper added. Rios did not immediately respond to requests for information.

Baldwin’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment either. Earlier on Thursday, news magazine People reported that a spokesperson for Baldwin had said there was an “accident” involving the “misfire of a prop gun with blanks”.

Baldwin was seen “distraught and in tears” as he spoke on the phone outside the sheriff’s office headquarters on Thursday, the Santa Fe New Mexican wrote.

Baldwin, 63, is a co-producer of Rust, a Western movie set in 1880s Kansas, and plays the eponymous character who is an outlaw grandfather of a 13-year-old boy convicted of an accidental killing.

Production of the film had been halted for an “undetermined period”, several news outlets quoted the film’s production company, Rust Movie Productions, as saying.

An email to an address for the film production, which was listed on a New Mexico government statement, went unanswered.

The shooting evoked memories of an on-set accident in 1993 when US actor Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, died aged 28 after being fatally wounded by a prop gun filming The Crow.

“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,” according to a tweet from Lee’s account, which is handled by his sister.

Ban on prop guns debate

The accident renewed debate about whether certain types of prop guns should be banned.

“This suggestion doesn’t help any of them, but it’s time to stop being macho about blanks and end the practice,” said Ben Rockula, a director.

Known for his impersonations of former US President Donald Trump on NBC's comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, Baldwin has a long history in film and television, including roles in Glengarry Glen Ross and 30 Rock.

Hutchins, 42, who was originally from Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle, once worked as an investigative reporter in Europe, according to her website.

She graduated from the American Film Institute in 2015 and was selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019, according to her website biography.

Representatives for Hutchins did not immediately respond to a request for information about her death.

Reuters

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