Last known photo of Halyna Hutchins emerges showing inside chapel where Alec Baldwin fired fatal shot

·6-min read
The last known photograph of Halyna Hutchins, according to Serge Svetnoy, the movie's head electrician - Facebook
The last known photograph of Halyna Hutchins, according to Serge Svetnoy, the movie's head electrician - Facebook

The last known photograph of Halyna Hutchins before she was accidentally shot dead by Alec Baldwin on the set of his new film Rust has been shared by a crew member.

Serge Svetnoy, the movie's head electrician, said on Facebook that it was the final picture taken of the 42-year-old director of photography on set in New Mexico. 

It was not clear if it was taken in the moments directly before the killing last Thursday but appeared to show the same scene, with Baldwin being filmed in a chapel.

It came as it emerged that crew members used guns with live ammunition for target practice the morning of the incident, it has been reported, with spent casings later discovered by detectives.

Watch: Loose and boxed ammunition found at scene of Alec Baldwin shooting

The crew would regularly take guns off the set at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, to shoot at beer cans nearby in a pastime known as "plinking", CNN and The Wrap website reported.

One of the guns used was later handed to Baldwin, who fired the shot that killed Hutchins, 42, and injured director Joel Souza. The star believed he was handed a “cold gun”, meaning it did not contain any live bullets.

"There's this pastime that crew members sometimes do, it's called 'plinking,' and they go out into the rural areas and they shoot at beer cans. This is with live ammunition. We learned that this happened the morning of the day that Halyna Hutchins was killed," Sharon Waxman, founder and CEO of The Wrap, told CNN. Ms Waxman said the activity is common when there's downtime during a shoot.

Rust Movie Productions said in a statement: "The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”

Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on Thursday - AP
Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on Thursday - AP

It came as it emerged three revolvers, spent casings and ammunition - in boxes, loose and in a small bag, were found on the set after the shooting.

An inventory, filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court, of what was discovered on the set did not specify what kind of ammunition was seized, and whether it included regular bullets, blank cartridges or dummies. Live bullets are generally forbidden on film sets.

Mike Tristano, a veteran professional armourer based in Los Angeles, told the New York Times that the loose ammunition and casings “raises questions about the organisation of the armoury department.”

Director of Photography, Halyna Hutchins, 42, was tragically shot and killed by actor Alec Baldwin, 63, in an accident with a prop gun while filming his new movie Rust - Nicholas Razzell
Director of Photography, Halyna Hutchins, 42, was tragically shot and killed by actor Alec Baldwin, 63, in an accident with a prop gun while filming his new movie Rust - Nicholas Razzell

It was also reported that a prop master with 30 years’ experience revealed that he was in talks to join the film, but decided not to because he was not given the team he needed to do the job safely

“There were massive red flags,” Neal Zoromski, whose prop credits include Day After Tomorrow, and Thank You for Smoking, told the LA Times.

What concerned Mr Zoromski the most was his request for five technicians in the department, a figure he revised to two due to Rust’s low budget. But producers wanted one person to serve as both assistant prop master and armourer.

“You never have a prop assistant double as the armourer,” he said. “Those are two really big jobs.”

Serge Svetnoy, the film’s head electrician described the moment he held Ms Hutchins as she lay dying, after she was struck during rehearsals as Baldwin practiced drawing the weapon in a church pew.

Writing in a Facebook post, Mr Svetnoy said: “The negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this.

“To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job, and you risk the lives of the other people who are close and your lives as well.”

Locals and members of the local film community mourn the loss of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins - Anadolu
Locals and members of the local film community mourn the loss of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins - Anadolu

The gun Baldwin used was one of three that a firearms specialist, or "armourer," had set on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.

Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed a gun off a cart and handed it to Baldwin, indicating that the weapon was safe by yelling "cold gun," court papers say. But it was loaded with live rounds, according to the records.

A prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician who worked with Mr Halls, the assistant director, on another production said she had raised safety concerns about him in the past.

Maggie Goll said in a statement that she filed an internal complaint with the executive producers of Hulu's Into the Dark series in 2019 over concerns about Mr Halls' behaviour on set. Ms Goll said Mr Halls disregarded safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics and tried to continue filming after the supervising pyrotechnician lost consciousness on set.

She claims he repeatedly failed to announce that firearms were on the show’s set. “The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon’s presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day,” she said in a statement.

Attention has focused on Mr Halls and 24-year-old armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed in the wake of the tragedy.

An armourer is tasked with supplying and keeping weapons safe on set, ensuring that they are accounted for at all times, and locked away when not in use.

Armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was named in a search warrant filed at a court in Santa Fe, New Mexico - Instagram
Armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was named in a search warrant filed at a court in Santa Fe, New Mexico - Instagram

Mr Halls did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The fatal shooting and previous experiences point to larger safety issues that need to be addressed, Ms Goll said, adding that crew member safety and wellbeing are top issues in ongoing contract negotiations between a union that represents film and TV workers and a major producers' group.

According to an interview with Mr Souza, used in an affidavit released on Sunday by the Santa Fe County sheriff’s department, Baldwin had been sitting in a wooden pew in a set depicting a church, explaining how he would draw the gun, when it suddenly discharged.

Mr Souza told a detective that he remembered Ms Hutchins grabbing her midsection and starting to stumble backward before noticing that he was bleeding from his shoulder.

Watch: Alec Baldwin is 'cancelling other projects' following Rust tragedy

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