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Alec Baldwin ‘shocked and saddened’ after fatally shooting woman on movie set

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Alec Baldwin has expressed his deep “shock and sadness” after he accidentally killed a cinematographer and wounded a director when discharging a prop gun on the set of his latest film in New Mexico, police have said.

Sheriff’s officials in Santa Fe said Halyna Hutchins, director of photography for the movie Rust, and director Joel Souza were shot on Thursday.

Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel. Souza, 48, was treated for his injuries at Christus St Vincent Regional Medical Centre.

Baldwin tweeted on Friday, expressing his condolences to Hutchins’s family and calling the shooting an accident.

“There are 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. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation,” he wrote on Twitter.

“My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks, while authorities confirmed an investigation into what type of projectile had been discharged and how. No immediate charges have been filed.

Police were called to Bonanza Creek Ranch, a purpose-built film set near Santa Fe, shortly before 2pm local time on Thursday. Images of the 63-year-old actor showed him distraught outside the sheriff’s office.

An investigation is under way into what type of projectile had been discharged and how. IATSE Local 44, a union representing propmasters in the Los Angeles area, addressed the shooting in an email to members on Friday morning and said the prop gun fired by Baldwin contained “a live single round,” rather than a blank.

The organisation said no members of Local 44 were listed on the Rust call sheet, including the film’s propmaster, who has yet to be named publicly.

The incident has triggered debate on the use of firearms on film sets and whether they should be permanently replaced with rubber and airsoft guns instead.

The use of guns on set is strictly controlled, with a prop master or a licensed armourer responsible for handling all weapons, including loading blanks. Productions are also often required to instal shields, made from materials such as perspex, to protect cast and crew.

There was an outpouring of grief on social media after Hutchins’s death was confirmed by the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600.

In a statement to Variety, guild president John Lindley and its executive director Rebecca Rhine said: “We received the devastating news this evening, that one of our members, Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography on a production called Rust in New Mexico, died from injuries sustained on the set.

“This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our Guild’s family.”

An American Film Institute (AFI) graduate, Hutchins worked on several short films as well as last year’s full length feature Archenemy, starring Joe Manganiello. She was named “rising star” by American Cinematographer magazine in 2019.

Archenemy director Adam Egypt Mortimer retweeted a post about working with Hutchins that read: “Halyna Hutchins, Archenemy DP, has a brilliant mind for light and texture. Her tastes and sensibility of what is cinematic were a huge asset for executing our style – the grimy but beautiful feeling I referred to as ROMANTIC BRUTALSM.”

Production has been halted on Rust. Written by Souza, the film also stars Travis Fimmel, Brady Noon, Frances Fisher and Jensen Ackles.

It is the story of notorious outlaw Harlan Rust, played by Baldwin, who goes on the run with his 13-year-old grandson after the teenager accidentally kills a rancher.

This is not the first time a misfiring weapon has had fatal consequences. Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon, died in 1993 after he was shot by a gun firing blanks on the set of the movie The Crow.

US journalist Mark Harris wrote: “One of the first stories I ever covered as a journalist was the accidental death of Brandon Lee. It left me with a lifelong dread of guns on sets. This is horrific.”

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