Alec Baldwin says fatal shooting was ‘one in a trillion’

Security guards stand at the entrance of Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on October 22, 2021. – Actor Alec Baldwin was the focus on October 22, 2021, of investigations into a shocking and deadly on-set tragedy, after the actor fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director of a Western he was shooting at the ranch. Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza “were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin,” the sheriff in Santa Fe said in a statement. Hutchins, 42, was transported to hospital by helicopter but died of her wounds, while Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance and was receiving treatment. (Photo by Anne LEBRETON / AFP)

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — US actor Alec Baldwin said Saturday in his first public comments on his fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a prop gun on a movie set that the tragedy was a “one in a trillion episode.”

In footage aired by TMZ, Baldwin and his wife Hilaria spoke to reporters who intercepted them in Manchester, Vermont. The Hollywood star declined to comment on the investigation of the shooting on the set of the 19th-century Western “Rust” on October 21.

Baldwin has previously tweeted to express his grief over the tragedy, and said he is cooperating with police investigating the killing.

“She was my family,” he told the reporters in the footage.

“There are incidental accidents on film sets from time to time, but nothing like this. This is a one in a trillion episode.”

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 12, 2019 actor Alec Baldwin attends the ‘Exploring the Arts’ 20th anniversary Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. – US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement officers said October 21, 2021.
The incident happened on the set of “Rust” in the southwestern US state, where Baldwin is playing the lead in a 19th-century western. No charges have been filed over the incident, which is being investigated. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

Calls have grown since the incident for better control of weapons on Hollywood sets, and Baldwin said the effort was “something I am extremely interested in.”

But he could not say whether he would ever work with firearms on a set again.

He also said that production on “Rust,” which was suspended immediately after the killing, would not resume.

Baldwin, who was a producer as well as the lead actor in the film, fired a live round from a Colt .45 during a rehearsal on the set of “Rust.”

The round passed through Hutchins’ body and struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder. She died, while he was treated in hospital for the injury and released.

Baldwin, who had been told by the film’s assistant director that the gun was “cold” — meaning it did not have a live round in the chamber — said he could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

The assistant director, Dave Halls, has since told detectives that he did not fully check the gun before declaring it safe.

Halls was fired as assistant director on a previous movie for gun safety violations, that film’s producers said this week.

– ‘Well-oiled crew’ –
The film’s armorer said in a statement on Friday that she had “no idea” where the live round came from.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24, was responsible for supplying and keeping weapons safe on set, ensuring that they were accounted for at all times and locked away when not in use.

She “never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that,” the statement said.

“They were locked up every night and at lunch and there’s no way a single one of them was unaccounted for or being shot by crew members.”

More than a dozen weapons were being stored in a prop truck on the set, according to law enforcement documents seen by AFP on Friday.

Gutierrez-Reed spoke after days of reports suggesting safety lapses on set.

Authorities have said they do not rule out pressing criminal charges.

Investigators in Santa Fe, where “Rust” was being made, said they had seized a cache of ammunition, some of which they believe was live, and the sheriff told reporters there was “some complacency” on set.

Baldwin said that the day he arrived in Santa Fe he had taken Hutchins and Souza to dinner.

“We were a very, very … well-oiled crew shooting a film together and then this horrible event happened,” he said.

And he described meeting Hutchins’ widower and son, saying they were “overwhelmed with grief.”

© Agence France-Presse