SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer on a New Mexico film set with a gun a crew member had assured the actor was safe, a tragic mistake that came hours after some workers walked off the job to protest conditions and production issues.
An assistant director, Dave Halls, grabbed a prop gun off a cart at a desert movie ranch and handed it to Baldwin during a Thursday rehearsal for the Western film "Rust," according to court records made public Friday.
"Cold gun," Halls yelled, declaring the weapon didn't carry live rounds and was ready to fire.
But it wasn't. When Baldwin pulled the trigger, he unwittingly killed 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her inside a wooden, chapel-like building.
A 911 call that alerted authorities to the shooting at the Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe hints at the panic on the movie set, as detailed in a recording released by the Santa Fe County Regional Emergency Communications Center.
"We had two people accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun, we need help immediately," script supervisor Mamie Mitchell told an emergency dispatcher. "We were rehearsing and it went off, and I ran out, we all ran out."
The dispatcher asked if the gun was loaded with a real bullet.
"I cannot tell you. We have two injuries," Mitchell replied. "And this (expletive) AD (assistant director) that yelled at me at lunch, asking about revisions....He's supposed to check the guns. He's responsible for what happens on the set."
Halls did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment. The Associated Press was unable to contact Hannah Gutierrez, the film's armorer, and several messages sent to production companies affiliated with "Rust" did not receive responses Friday.
The gun Baldwin used was one of three that Gutierrez had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to the court records. Halls grabbed the firearm from the cart and brought it inside to the actor, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds, a detective wrote in a search warrant application.
It was unclear how many rounds were fired. Gutierrez removed a shell casing from the gun after the shooting, and she turned the weapon over to police when they arrived, the court records say.
Guns used in making movies are sometimes real weapons that can fire either bullets or blanks, which are gunpowder charges intended to produce little more than a flash and a bang.
New Mexico workplace safety investigators are examining if film industry standards for gun safety were followed during production of "Rust." The Los Angeles Times, citing two crew members it did not name, reported that five days before the shooting, Baldwin's stunt double accidentally fired two live rounds after being told the gun didn't have any ammunition.
A crew member who was alarmed by the misfires told a unit production manager in a text message, "We've now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe," according to a copy of the message reviewed by the newspaper. The New York Times also reported that there were at least two earlier accidental gun discharges; it cited three former crew members.
Mitchell, the script supervisor, told The Associated Press she was standing next to Hutchins when the cinematographer was hit.
"I ran out and called 911 and said 'Bring everybody, send everybody,' " Mitchell said. "This woman is gone at the beginning of her career. She was an extraordinary, rare, very rare woman."
Filmmaker Souza, who was shot in the shoulder, said in a statement to NBC News that he was grateful for the support he was receiving and gutted by the loss of Hutchins. "She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better," he said.