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A prop gun discharged by Alec Baldwin killed a film crew member on set, sheriff says

Actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm on a movie set near Sante Fe, killing the film's director of photography and injuring the director, according to the sheriff's office of Santa Fe County, N.M.

Halyna Hutchins, 42, was airlifted Thursday afternoon, to the University of New Mexico hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Director Joel Souza, 48, was being cared for at Christus St. Vincent Medical Center as of Thursday evening.

Deputies responded about 2 p.m. to the Rust movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls came in of a person being shot on set, Juan Rios, a spokesman for the sheriff said.

"According to investigators, it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged," sheriff's spokesman Rios told the Albuquerque Journal. "Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged."

The investigation is ongoing and authorities say no charges have been filed in this incident, the sheriff's office said. Detectives are continuing to interview witnesses.

Production has so far been halted on the Western movie, which is being directed by Souza with Baldwin producing and starring.

A spokesperson for Baldwin said only there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.

A publicist and manager contacted by NPR for further comment didn't immediately respond.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Baldwin was seen Thursday outside the sheriff's office in tears, but attempts to get a comment from him were unsuccessful.

Unions call for a continued investigation

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement that the union was "devastated" by the tragic incident.

"This is still an active investigation and we do not yet have all the facts," they said in a statement. "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."

The Cinematographers Guild, of which Hutchins was a member, said the group was mourning her loss.

The Guild's National President, John Lindley, and National Executive Director, Rebecca Rhine said in a statement shared with Deadline: "The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event."

Hutchins, who was originally from Ukraine, graduated from the AFI conservatory in 2015. She was selected as one of American Cinematographer's Rising Stars of 2019, according to her website.

On her Instagram account, Hutchins shared video of her riding a horse during the filming of Rust and a group photo of the crew on set, in which Baldwin is included.

Her recent work includes the superhero action film Archenemy, starring Joe Manganiello, and Blindfire.

Filming for Rust was set to continue into early November, according to a news release from the New Mexico Film Office.

The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.

Incidents on movie or television sets, in which someone is killed or injured, by a prop firearm are rare.

In 1993, Brandon Lee, 28, son of the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee, died after being hit by a .44-caliber slug while filming a death scene for the movie The Crow. The gun was supposed to have fired a blank, but an autopsy turned up a bullet lodged near his spine.