Actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a crew member and wounded another when he fired a prop gun on a New Mexico movie set, authorities said. File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 22 (UPI) -- A live bullet that was put into a prop gun handled by actor Alec Baldwin went off and killed a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of a new western film, authorities and officials said Friday.
The Santa Fe Sheriff's Department said in a statement to UPI that Baldwin, 68, discharged the prop weapon Thursday on the set of the film Rust and the projectile struck two people -- Halyna Hutchins, the film's director of photography, and director Joel Souza.
Hutchins, 42, was flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the department said. Souza was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center for treatment, and has since been released.
Baldwin expressed profound sadness in a pair of tweets on Friday.
"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours," he wrote.
"I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna."
A local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union that represents propmasters, said in an email Friday that the prop gun contained a real bullet.
"A live single round was accidentally fired on set by the principal actor, hitting both the director of photography ... Halnya Hutchins, and director Joel Souza," IATSE Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Pawluc said, according to IndieWire.
It wasn't immediately clear how or why a live bullet was placed into the prop gun.
The New Mexico Occupational Safety and Health Bureau launched an investigation into the incident, Rebecca Roose, deputy Cabinet secretary of the Environment Department, told Deadline.
"The state takes all workplace safety issues very seriously and will work diligently through our investigation of this tragic fatality."
Santa Fe County Sheriff's spokesman Juan Rio told CNN that officials had issued a search warrant for the property where the movie was being filmed.
The International Cinematographers Guild issued a statement saying it supports a "full investigation into this tragic event."
The Screen Actors Guild -- American Federation of Television and Radio Arts issued a statement, saying they are "devastated by this tragic news" and that "our hearts go out" to the family of Hutchins and to Souza.
"This is still an active investigation, and we do not have all the facts," SAG-AFTRA Director Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said. "We will continue to work with production, the other unions and the authorities to investigate this incident and to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again."
According to IMDB, Rust is a western set in Kansas during the 1880s about a 13-year-old boy who runs away with his estranged grandfather after a local rancher is accidentally killed.
Rust Movie Productions LLC, the company producing the movie, issued a statement to The New York Times, saying production of the movie has been indefinitely halted.
"The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today's tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna's family and loved ones," it said. "We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event."
Hutchins' last post on Instagram showed her riding a horse on the set of Rust.
"One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off," she posted.
Thursday's deadly accident, while unusual, is not unprecedented in the film industry.
Actor and martial artist Brandon Lee was killed in a similar mishap in 1993 while filming The Crow in North Carolina. In that case, a live bullet had become stuck in the barrel of a prop gun and was later dislodged by the explosion of a blank round.