The cast and crew of “Rust” had just returned from lunch when it happened.
One minute, producer-star Alec Baldwin and a handful of others were rehearsing a scene in a wooden church on a dusty Old West movie set meant to look like 1880s Kansas. The next minute, two people were bleeding from gunshot wounds – one of which would prove to be fatal – and everyone was reeling from confusion and shock.
Here is a moment-by-moment account of what happened that day, based on a search warrant affidavit and 911 calls.
A sudden shot rang out on set
The crew was filming on October 21, 2021, at Bonanza Creek Ranch, a Western movie set outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the film, Baldwin plays a grizzled outlaw on the run from authorities with his 13-year-old grandson.
Mornings typically started with breakfast at 6:30 a.m., but that day they were behind schedule. A six-person camera crew had recently walked off the job, complaining about pay and housing, and a new crew had been brought in.
But even with the delay, things appeared to be going smoothly, director Joel Souza told Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies in the affidavit. Baldwin and crew members began rehearsing a scene in the rustic church, broke for lunch, and then returned to the set.
Baldwin, dressed in Old West clothes, was huddled with Souza, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and a few others inside the simple wooden structure. One camera was set up, but because they were just rehearsing, nothing was being filmed or recorded.
Assistant director Dave Halls fetched a prop gun from a cart outside the church and yelled “cold gun!,” indicating it was unloaded. He then handed it to Baldwin, who sat in a church pew facing the camera and crew.
Baldwin was demonstrating a “cross draw” – pulling a gun from a holster on the opposite side of his body from his draw hand. The scene required him to point the gun toward the camera.
It was about 1:50 p.m. Souza told deputies he was viewing the scene through the camera and nearby monitors when he heard “what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop.”
Hutchins stumbled backward and slumped to the floor, clutching her stomach and saying she couldn’t feel her legs. Souza, who had been standing beside her, noticed blood on his shoulder.
Suddenly, there was chaos.
A script supervisor called 911
Crew members scattered. A medic tried to stop Hutchins’ bleeding while others frantically dialed 911.
In a 911 call, a woman who described herself as the film’s script supervisor told the dispatcher what had happened.
“Two people have been accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun. We need help immediately,” the woman said, according to a transcript of the call obtained by CNN affiliate KOAT.
“A director and a camerawoman have been shot.”
The 911 operator asked if the prop gun was loaded with a real bullet.
“I cannot tell you that,” the woman said. “We have two injuries from a movie, gunshot … I was sitting, we were rehearsing and it went off, and I ran out. We all ran out. They were doubled over … the camerawoman and the director.”
‘The caller then began cursing at an unidentified person about gun safety on the set.
Then came another 911 call, this one from an unidentified man on the set. The dispatcher told him an ambulance was on the way. She also offered to give instructions on how to stop the victims’ bleeding.
The caller told the dispatcher that a medic on set was helping treat those who were shot. A cacophony of voices could be heard in the background.
Investigators seized Baldwin’s clothes
Sheriff’s deputies arrived shortly afterward.
Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to a hospital some 55 miles away in Albuquerque, where she was pronounced dead. Souza, 48, suffered a gunshot wound to his right shoulder.
A distraught Baldwin changed into his street clothes and gave his blood-stained Western outfit to authorities. He also gave the prop gun to the armorer – the person who oversees firearms on movie sets – who took the spent casing out and handed it to detectives.
Investigators also found two other prop guns, a Western-style gun belt and some ammunition.
Detectives learned the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, had laid three prop guns on the cart before Halls, the assistant director, grabbed one and handed it to Baldwin. Souza, the film’s director, told investigators he believed the gun was unloaded and safe.
In the affidavit, detectives sought a search warrant to seize more items as evidence, including firearms and ammunition, cameras, memory cards and computers.
“We will continue to fully cooperate with any and all law-enforcement investigations as they work through the details of this heartbreaking tragedy,” a spokesperson for the production company behind the movie told CNN.
The film industry is mourning Hutchins, who was seen as a rising talent in Hollywood. Baldwin has said he’s heartbroken.
The Bonanza Creek Ranch, which has been used for dozens of Western-themed movies and TV series, including “Lonesome Dove” and “Cowboys and Aliens,” sat deserted after the shooting as the production team halted filming.
Baldwin told CNN last August that he didn’t believe he or anyone else would face criminal charges in the fatal shooting. But on Thursday, prosecutors announced plans to charge him with involuntary manslaughter. Reed also will be charged, they said.
Hutchins’ family said they support the charges. “It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law,” they said in a statement.
No one else will be charged in the shooting, prosecutors said. Production on “Rust” was due to resume this month.