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News

Union: Prop Gun Fired By Alec Baldwin Contained Live Bullet

Alec Baldwin at the U.S. Open in Forest Hills in 2011.
Alec Baldwin at the U.S. Open in Forest Hills in 2011. Photo Credit: Edwin Martinez from The Bronx, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE: The prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on the set of his latest film in New Mexico contained a "live single round," the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees told its members in an email.

The gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza in an "accidental discharge" on Thursday was among props supplied for the film “Rust” not by IATSE Local 44 members but a local crew, Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Pawluc added.

“A live single round was accidentally fired on set by the principal actor, hitting both the Director of Photography, Local 600 member Halyna Hutchins, and Director Joel Souza,” the email reads. “Both were rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, we lost Sister Hutchins who passed from the wound.”

IndieWire was the first to disclose the email.

SEE: Prop Gun Fired by Alec Baldwin Contained Live Bullet, Says IATSE Local 44

Baldwin issued his first public statement on the shooting Friday in a tweet that said, in part, that he had "no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours."

The 63-year-old Long Island native said he was "fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family."

Baldwin, who is also the film's producer, reportedly asked repeatedly why he was given a "hot gun" -- one loaded with real ammo -- saying that it had never happened "in all my years" as an actor.

He was later photographed in tears while talking on a cellphone outside the sheriff's office on Thursday.

Such tragedies have happened before.

Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, was killed in 1993 when a co-star fired a prop gun in which a fragment of a bullet remained on the set of "The Crow" in North Carolina.

Bonanza Creek Ranch, where Baldwin's film was being shot, was locked down as an investigation continued. Detectives were probing, among other things, what type of projectile was fired and whether it was indeed an accident, sheriff's spokesman Juan Ríos told reporters.

The sheriff's office confirmed the shooting in a statement:

"Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin, [63], producer and actor,” it said. “Ms. Hutchins was transported, via helicopter, to University of New Mexico Hospital where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel. Mr. Souza was transported by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical center where he is undergoing treatment for his injuries. This investigation remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”

Hutchins the day before had shared a clip on Instagram that she'd taken while riding a horse.

According to her website, Hutchins grew up on a Soviet military base within the Arctic Circle before emigrating from the Ukraine. She obtained a degree in international journalism from Kyiv National University worked as an investigative reporter on British documentaries in Europe.

After being graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015, Hutchins was dubbed one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019, the site says.

Bonanza Creek Ranch, the site of the shooting, has a 24-building town popular with directors of Westerns. Among the productions filmed there: "Cowboys and Aliens," "Longmire" and "3:10 to Yuma."

Fran Drescher, president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the union's National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland issued a statement: “We are devastated by this tragic news. Our hearts go out to the family of Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins who has passed away and to Director Joel Souza who is injured and hospitalized.

"This is still an active investigation and we do not yet have all the facts. We will continue to work with production, the other unions, and the authorities to investigate this incident and to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again,” they said.

Movie prop guns are often real and not the type used in stage productions. The blank cartridges that they fire don't have a bullet at the tip, but they're still propelled by ignited gun powder.

This produces the muzzle flash, bang and recoil, along with an ejected shell, as well as wadding used to stop the gunpowder and superheated gas -- all of which can be dangerous to anyone who's too close to the barrel.

ALSO SEE: What Are Prop Guns And Why Are They Dangerous?

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