Alec Baldwin, an actor dressed in period clothing and a white beard, sat down in a pew and thought about how he would draw a Colt.45 revolver across the body of his character Harlan Rust and aim it towards the camera.
After adjusting the camera angle to compensate for shadows, a crew prepared the shot. Although the camera was not yet rolling, director Joel Souza looked over Halyna Hutchins' shoulder to see what it saw.
Souza said that he heard a whip and then a loud pop.
Hutchins suddenly complained about her stomach and grabbed her midsection. She stumbled backwards, saying that she couldn't feel the legs. Souza realized that Hutchins was bleeding and noticed that Baldwin's gun had penetrated Hutchins' shoulder.
As people poured out of the building, a medic started trying to save Hutchins. Serge Svetnoy, a lighting specialist, said that he held Hutchins as she was dying and had her blood on his hands. Hutchins was flown by helicopter to the hospital by responders, but to no avail.
One week after the Oct. 21 shooting at the movie set for "Rust", accounts and images have been released in court documents, interviews, and social media posts. They have presented much of the tragedy but have not answered the crucial question: How did live ammunition end up being used as a prop gun in the movie, despite all the precautions that should have prevented it?
Adan Mendoza, Santa Fe County Sheriff, stated Wednesday that there was "some complacency” in the way weapons were handled during a news conference. Investigators discovered 500 rounds of ammunition, which included blanks, dummy and what appeared to have been live rounds. The set's firearms specialist Hannah Gutierrez Reed said that there shouldn't have been any real ammo.
Mendoza stated that "Obviously, I believe the industry has had an excellent record of safety in recent years." "I believe there was complacency about this set. I believe there are safety issues that the industry and perhaps the state of New Mexico need to address."
Mike Tristano is a veteran film weapons specialist and called it "appalling that live rounds were mixed with blanks or dummy rounds."
Tristano stated, "In more than 600 films and TV series that I have done, we've never had an live round on set."
The filming took place at Bonanza Creek Ranch. This sprawling property is known for being "where the Old West comes to life." It was home to more than 130 films, including Jimmy Stewart's 1955 movie "The Man from Laramie". There have been other features like "3:10 To Yuma," "Cowboys and Aliens", and the miniseries, "Lonesome Dove." In recent years, "The Comeback Trail" and the Tom Hanks Western "News of the World," starring Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Morgan Freeman and Morgan Freeman were also shot there.
From its inception in October, workplace disputes plagued the production of "Rust". A number of camera crew members left the set hours before shooting to protest unsafe working conditions and safety procedures. Souza explained to detectives that a new crew was hired, but filming was slower because they only had one camera.
Gutierrez Reed was 24 years old and had never worked as an armorer. According to Wednesday's search warrant affidavit, Gutierrez Reed told detectives she checked the dummy ammunition on the morning of shooting to make sure none were hot.
Gutierrez Reed stated that the crew had taken their guns to lunch and locked them in a safe within a large white truck, where props were kept. However, the ammunition was left unattended on a cart. Additional ammunition was found in the prop truck.
A search warrant affidavit that was released last Friday states that Gutierrez Reed placed three guns on a cart outside of the church. Assistant director Dave Halls then took one from the cart, and gave it to Baldwin. According to Wednesday's document, the armorer gave the gun sometimes to Baldwin and sometimes to Halls.
Gutierrez Reed did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press on Wednesday. In a text Monday, she stated that she was looking for a lawyer.
Halls did not fully inspect the weapon after he obtained it from Baldwin. He told detectives that he normally would inspect the barrel for any obstructions. Gutierrez Reed would then open the hatch and spin it where the bullets go to confirm that none of them are live.
He reported that he only remembered seeing three rounds and didn't know if the armorer had spun a drum.
He yelled "cold gun", to indicate that it was safe to use.
In Wednesday's affidavit, a Santa Fe County detective stated that he advised that he should have checked them all.
It is unclear if Baldwin pulled the trigger intentionally or accidentally.
Halls discovered the weapon, a black revolver made by an Italian company that specialises in 19th-century reproductions, on a pew in a church.
Gutierrez Reed received the package and asked him to open it. He told detectives that there were at most four dummy gun casings with the small hole at the side.
One empty casing was found. It did not have a hole.