One minute, producer-turned-artist Alec Baldwin and a few others were rehearsing a scene on a dusty Old West movie set in a wooden church that looked like 1880s Kansas. The next minute, two men were bleeding from the bullet wounds—one of whom would prove fatal—and everyone was battling with confusion and shock.
Here, based on a search warrant affidavit and 911 calls, is a moment-to-moment account of what happened that day.
The crew was filming last Thursday at Bonanza Creek Ranch, a western outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the film, Baldwin plays a hideous outlaw on the run from the authorities with his 13-year-old grandson.
The mornings usually started with breakfast at 6:30 in the morning, but they were behind the times that day. A six-person camera crew had recently left the job complaining about pay and accommodation, and a new crew was brought in.
But even with the delay, things seemed to be going smoothly, director Joel Souza told the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Deputies in an affidavit. Baldwin and crew members began rehearsing a scene in the pastoral church, broke for lunch, and then returned to the set.
Baldwin, dressed in Old West clothes, was nestled inside the simple wooden structure with Souza, cinematographer Helena Hutchins and a few others. A camera was set up, but because they were just rehearsing, nothing was being filmed or recorded.
Assistant Director Dave Holles pulled a prop gun out of a car outside the church and shouted “Cold gun!” shouted, indicating that it had been taken off. He then handed it over to Baldwin, who sat in a church in front of the cameras and crew.
Baldwin was performing a “cross draw”—drawing a gun from a holster on the opposite side of his body with his draw hand. The scene required him to point the gun at the camera.
It was around 1:50 a.m. when Souza told the deputy that he was watching the scene through cameras and a nearby monitor, when he heard “what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop.”
Hutchins stumbled backwards and fell to the floor, grasping her stomach, telling her not to feel her legs. Souza, who was standing beside him, saw blood on his shoulder.
Suddenly there was chaos.
A script supervisor called 911. is called
Crew members scattered. One drug tried to stop Hutchins’ bleeding, while the other dialed 911.
In a 911 call, a woman who described herself as the film’s script supervisor told the dispatcher what had happened.
According to a transcript of the call obtained by CNN-affiliated KOAT, the woman said, “Two people have been accidentally shot over a set film by a prop gun. We need help immediately.”
“A director and a camerawoman have been shot.”
The 911 operator asked if the prop gun was loaded with a real bullet.
“I can’t tell you that,” said the woman. “We’ve got two injuries from a movie, a gunshot … I was sitting, we were rehearsing and it went off, and I ran. We all ran. They doubled up … Camerawoman and the director.”
The caller then started cursing an unknown person for the safety of the gun on the sets.
Then came another 911 call, this one from an unknown person on the set. The dispatcher told him that an ambulance was on the way. He also offered to give instructions to stop the bleeding of the victims.
The caller told the dispatcher that a medic on the set was helping treat those who were shot. The crackling of voices could be heard in the background.
Investigators seize Baldwin’s clothes
Shortly after, the sheriff’s representative arrived.
Hutchins, 42, was taken to a hospital in Albuquerque, about 55 miles away, where he was pronounced dead. 48-year-old Souza sustained a bullet injury in his right shoulder and is recovering well.
A distraught Baldwin changed into his street robe and gave his blood-stained Western garb to the authorities. He also handed the prop gun to Armorer—the man who oversees the firearms on the film’s set—who pulled out the spent cover and handed it to the detectives.
Investigators also found two other prop guns, western-style gun belts and some ammunition.
It is not clear what was in the gun fired by Baldwin. After detectives learned that the Armor, Hannah Gutierrez, had three prop guns on the carriage in front of Hall, the assistant director grabbed one and handed it to Baldwin. The film’s director Souza told investigators that he believed the gun was unloaded and safe.
In the affidavit, the detectives sought a search warrant to seize more items as evidence, including firearms and ammunition, cameras, memory cards and computers.
Five days later, there are still more questions than answers.