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Rust director looks distraught as he is seen for the first time since fatal set shooting

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The director of the film Rust has been seen for the first time since his release from hospital following the fatal shooting of his camerawoman, Halyna Hutchins.

Joel Souza, 48, looked distraught as he sat in a car in Palo Alto, California with a female companion.

Souza, who was shot in the shoulder in Thursday’s tragedy, was released from the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe on Friday.

On Tuesday he was seen near his San Francisco home, holding his head in his hands in the passenger seat ahead of a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, at which more details of the accident will be revealed.

Joel Souza, 48, was seen on Tuesday near his San Francisco home with his head in his hands. The California-born director of Rust was shot in the shoulder on Thursday in a shooting that killed camerawoman Halyna Hutchins, 42

Joel Souza, 48, was seen on Tuesday near his San Francisco home with his head in his hands. The California-born director of Rust was shot in the shoulder on Thursday in a shooting that killed camerawoman Halyna Hutchins, 42

Souza was in the passenger seat of the car in Palo Alto, with an unnamed woman, on Tuesday

Souza was in the passenger seat of the car in Palo Alto, with an unnamed woman, on Tuesday

He was seen on Tuesday frequently rubbing his eyes, visibly upset. On Wednesday a press conference will be held to discuss the latest findings from the investigation

He was seen on Tuesday frequently rubbing his eyes, visibly upset. On Wednesday a press conference will be held to discuss the latest findings from the investigation

Souza was released from hospital on Friday, a day after the shooting on the set of the Western film

Souza was released from hospital on Friday, a day after the shooting on the set of the Western film

The director was seen wearing a face mask on Tuesday, putting it to wear outside the vehicle

The director was seen wearing a face mask on Tuesday, putting it to wear outside the vehicle

Hutchins, 42, died of her injuries when Alec Baldwin, star of the Western film, shot her dead in rehearsals. He had been told that it was a ‘cold gun’ – one which did not have live rounds.

Souza, the director of Rust, is seen in November 2019 at the New York screening of his film Crown Vic

Souza, the director of Rust, is seen in November 2019 at the New York screening of his film Crown Vic

Souza told investigators with Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office that he heard ‘what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop.’ 

He noticed Hutchins grabbing her midsection as she stumbled backward. 

She ‘was assisted to the ground’ by other crew members and Reid Russell, a camera operator, recalled Hutchins saying she could not feel her legs. 

Souza on Saturday issued a statement, saying: ‘I am gutted by the loss of my friend and colleague, Halyna. 

‘She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better. My thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time.

‘I am humbled and grateful by the outpouring of affection we have received from our filmmaking community, the people of Santa Fe, and the hundreds of strangers who have reached out….. It will surely aid in my recovery.’

On Wednesday Mary Carmack-Altwies, the District Attorney for the First Judicial district, will provide further information, alongside Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza.

Significant questions remain as to how live ammunition was allowed onto the set, and how Baldwin was mistakenly given a ‘hot’ gun. 

‘We haven’t ruled out anything,’ said Carmack-Altwies, speaking on Tuesday to The New York Times about possible charges. 

‘Everything at this point, including criminal charges, is on the table.’

Carmack-Altwies told the paper that the investigation was focusing on ballistics in an effort to determine what kind of round was in the gun that killed Hutchins.

‘There were an enormous amount of bullets on this set, and we need to find out what kinds they were,’ said Carmack-Altwies. 

Detectives said that they recovered three revolvers, spent casings and ammunition — in boxes, loose and in a fanny pack.

Carmack-Altwies took issue with descriptions of the firearm used in the incident as ‘prop-gun,’ saying that the terminology, which is used in some of the court documents related to the case, could give the misleading impression that it was not a real gun.

‘It was a legit gun,’ she said.

‘It was an antique-era appropriate gun.’ 

Sources told TMZ on Saturday that the gun had been used by the crew off-set for target practice – an allegation that, if confirmed, will raise serious questions about the protocols on set. 

According to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court, the gun given to Baldwin was one of three that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, had set on a cart outside the wooden structure where a scene was being acted. 

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was seen for the first time as she paced outside her home on Monday, October 25

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was seen for the first time as she paced outside her home on Monday, October 25

The 24-year-old was seen wearing all black with a T-shirt picturing a naked woman in fishnet tights and red high heels tied up emblazoned with: 'I'm all tied up at the moment'

The rookie armorer was snapped deep into a phone conversation outside her home

The rookie armorer was snapped deep into a phone conversation outside her home

Armorer Hannah Gutierrez, 24, is the daughter of legendary armorer and firearms consultant Thell Reed, who trained her from a young age

Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds

A search warrant released Friday said that armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed (left) laid out three prop guns on a cart outside the filming location, and assistant director Dave Halls (right) grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin

An aerial view of the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, where the movie was being filmed

An aerial view of the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, where the movie was being filmed

 

Born in Ukraine and raised on a Soviet military base 'surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines', Halyna, 42, had trained as a journalist and spent time in Europe working on British documentaries before making the move to Los Angeles, where she had established her career

An inconsolable Alec Baldwin is shown outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office after accidentally shooting and killing the cinematographer on Thursday

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot with a prop gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin on the movie set in New Mexico on Thursday 

Gutierrez removed a shell casing from the gun after the shooting, and she turned the weapon over to police when they arrived, the court records say. 

Baldwin, 63, has spoken of his devastation at the accident. He has been seen comforting Hutchins's husband and son

Baldwin, 63, has spoken of his devastation at the accident. He has been seen comforting Hutchins’s husband and son

Gutierrez, 24, appeared on the ‘Voices of the West’ podcast last month where she admitted she was initially reluctant about her abilities.  

‘I just finished up working on ‘The Old Way’ with Nicolas Cage, his very first Western,’ she told the podcast. 

‘It was also my first time being head armorer as well. 

‘You know, I was really nervous about it at first and I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready. But doing it, it went really smoothly.’

Her father, Thell Reed, is also a well-known Hollywood armorer. 

Yet on Tuesday, The Wrap reported that there were multiple complaints made about her after she discharged weapons without warning and infuriated Cage.  

Stu Brumbaugh, who served as key grip on the film said that Gutierrez failed to follow basic gun safety protocols like announcing the arrival and usage of weapons onto the set.

After firing a gun near the cast and crew for a second time in three days without warning, Brumbaugh said that Cage yelled at her: ‘Make an announcement, you just blew my f****** eardrums out!’

Cage then stormed off set. 

‘I told the AD, ‘She needs to be let go,’ said Brumbaugh. 

‘After the second round I was pissed off. We were moving too fast. She’s a rookie.’

Production of the film has stopped now in light of the tragedy. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department is investigating and 'collecting evidence', a spokesman said on Friday

Production of the film has stopped now in light of the tragedy. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department is investigating and ‘collecting evidence’, a spokesman said on Friday 

Baldwin and Hutchins (circled) are pictured together on the set of Rust, in an image that she uploaded to Instagram two days before the fatal shooting

Baldwin and Hutchins (circled) are pictured together on the set of Rust, in an image that she uploaded to Instagram two days before the fatal shooting

Brumbaugh also claimed that she tucked pistols under her armpits and carried rifles in each hand, and aimed firearms at people.

Gutierrez has not commented, and has deleted her social media profiles.

She was seen on Monday outside her home in Arizona, deep in conversation. 

On Tuesday her landlady at the rundown property she lives in in Bullhead City, Arizona, told Fox News that she wanted her out of the house. 

‘I remember her because she had blonde hair then,’ a neighbor told Fox. 

‘She shared the place with other youngsters. They were coming and going all the time and the place is a wreck. I can’t imagine what it’s like inside.’ 

Questions were also being asked about the actions of the assistant direction. 

Audio of the 911 call, released on Friday, showed the script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, summoning help and blaming the film’s assistant director.

While the phone operator is inputting the details, Mitchell can be heard telling someone else: ‘OK, this f****** AD that yelled at me at lunch asking about revisions, this motherf*****.

‘Did you see him lean over my desk and yell at me? He’s supposed to check the guns. He’s responsible for what happened.’ 

Alec Baldwin is seen on the set of Rust with fake blood earlier Thursday, hours before he shot and killed the film's cinematographer. He shared this photo on Instagram with the caption "Back to in person at the office. Blimey…it’s exhausting." Filming was halted following the fatal incident at the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set in Santa Fe

Baldwin is seen in costume, covered with fake blood, in an image posted to Instagram 

The Bonanza Creek ranch in New Mexico, outside of Santa Fe, is seen during filming of Rust. Baldwin is believed to have shot and killed Hutchins inside this church

The Bonanza Creek ranch in New Mexico, outside of Santa Fe, is seen during filming of Rust. Baldwin is believed to have shot and killed Hutchins inside this church

Hutchins, born in Ukraine, was fondly remembered by those who worked with her on the set of Rust

Hutchins, born in Ukraine, was fondly remembered by those who worked with her on the set of Rust

ALEC BALDWIN ON-SET TRAGEDY: WHAT COULD HAVE GONE WRONG? 

The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate what exactly happened on the set that led to the death of Hutchins and the injury of the director, but past accidents involving guns on movie sets present a range of options for what could have led to the tragedy. 

Squib load – something was lodged in the barrel of the gun when Baldwin fired

One possibility is that an object was stuck in the barrel of the prop gun that Baldwin was using. Known as a squib load, it happens when a cartridge isn’t fired from the barrel because the gas isn’t strong enough to push it out. 

In itself, it is not dangerous and can be fixed if the gun is safely cleared but if someone keeps firing rounds from that same gun – live or not – it can be highly dangerous. 

If a second round is fired behind the stuck round, it can cause the weapon to explode, or injure people in the near vicinity. 

A real bullet was accidentally loaded, or part of one was, instead of a blank 

After firing the gun, Baldwin’s immediate reaction was to ask why he’d been handed a ‘hot’ gun – meaning one containing live bullets. 

That is what happened in the 1993 shooting of actor Brandon Bruce Lee on the set of The Crow. 

Those on set thought the gun was loaded with blanks, but an autopsy revealed a .44 caliber bullet was lodged near Lee’s spine. 

Police recovered dummy shell casings from the set. 

A dummy, unlike a blank, looks like a live round with a bullet at the tip of the cartridge. 

The difference between live rounds and blanks is the tip of the cartridge where the lethal bullet is contained is not there on a blank. Sometimes they are replaced with cotton or paper. Dummy bullets, unlike blanks, look like ordinary bullets but aren't meant to contain the metal bullet tip either

The difference between live rounds and blanks is the tip of the cartridge where the lethal bullet is contained is not there on a blank. Sometimes they are replaced with cotton or paper. Dummy bullets, unlike blanks, look like ordinary bullets but aren’t meant to contain the metal bullet tip either 

Blast from the blank struck something else on set

One possibility, though it is not likely, is that the blank hit something else, damaged it, and caused that prop or piece of equipment to send pieces flying towards the director and Hutchins. 

Rhys Muldoon who has used guns on set many times and says even blanks are dangerous, speculated at that possibility, telling the BBC: ‘The first thought I had is this is a close up of a gun being fired by the actor, very close to the frame of the camera, that has misfired, hit the DoP, and then something has either come off the French Flag or the black box like a part of the camera and hit the director as well.’ 

But movie experts say even in those cases, there should be more safeguards in place. 

‘If you are in the line of fire… You would have a face mask, you would have goggles, you would stand behind a Perspex screen, and you would minimize the number of people by the camera. 

‘What I don’t understand in this instance is how two people have been injured, one tragically killed, in the same event,’ Steven Hall, who has worked on films such as Fury and The Imitation Game, told BBC.  

A detective, in his warrant application, wrote that assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds.

It is not known whether Mitchell was referring Halls in the audio.    

Ray Liotta, star of Goodfellas and Many Saints of Newark, told The Associated Press that he was shocked by the on-set shooting.

‘They always — that I know of — they check it so you can see,’ he said.

‘They give it to the person you’re pointing the gun at. 

‘They do it to the producer. 

‘They show whoever is there that it doesn’t work.’ 

Prior to the fatal shooting there were at least two accidental discharges of prop firearms on the set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

And Halls, according to people who spoke to Insider, had previously sparked alarm with his directions.

Melissa Low Lyon, the former on-set dresser for Hulu’s horror series Into the Dark, alleged that Halls caused concern in 2019 when he told actor Creed Bratton to perform a stunt where his character was supposed to be shot in the head. 

Bratton told Halls that he was worried about the scene, and uneasy about the actions Halls wanted. Bratton feared that the dummy projectile could still hit him in the eye, but Halls pressed him to continue, Lyon claimed.

‘Creed himself expressed concern because he said ‘it’s not going to get my eye is it,” Lyon told Insider. 

‘And then as soon as it happened, he said ‘I f****** knew it.”

Lyon said she found Halls ‘volatile’ and difficult to work with.

‘Dave gets very confrontational in a sense, and just doesn’t want to listen and says, ‘well we’re just going to do it’ and he’ll do things like he did on Rust and just grab it or do it himself,’ Lyon said.   

Halls was previously fired from the production of another film, Freedom’s Path, in 2019 after an accident involving a gun. 

The weapon in that production fired unexpectedly, injuring a sound crew member who recoiled from the blast and had to seek treatment. 

Freedom’s Path is still in production and is expected to be released next year.  

Rock Soul Studios, the company that produced the movie, fired him as a result. 

The company told CNN about the incident on Monday as others in the industry lined up to trash Halls, calling him unprofessional, ‘barbaric’ and negligent. 

On the set of another film, horror Western The Pale Door, released in August 2020, a second assistant director quit in protest at how Halls treated him and other workers.

Halls, the first assistant director, was constantly ‘rushing everyone’ and was ‘rude about it, too,’ said Danny Hulsey.

Hulsey told Insider he did not see any safety violations, but was angered by Halls’ attitude. 

Halls has not commented on either the 2019 incident, the 2020 confrontation, or the Rust shooting.  

Rust had the a low budget for a film, with producers wanting the movie shot at the cost of an average episode of a high-end drama series – about $6-$7 million.

It was also on a tight 21-day filming schedule, according to Deadline.

The budget lead to constraints, according to some. 

Neal W. Zoromski, a veteran prop master, said that he turned down an offer to join Rust because they would not give him the team he requested.

Zoromski told The Los Angeles Times he initially asked for a department of five technicians, which would be standard in the business.  

He then modified his request to two experienced crew members: an assistant prop master and an armorer, who handles prop guns. 

But he said he was told the movie could only afford one person handling all these duties, so he turned down the job.

‘There were massive red flags,’ he said.

‘After I pressed ‘send’ on that last email, I felt, in the pit of my stomach: ‘That is an accident waiting to happen.’ 

The production company behind the film said that they were unaware of any previous problems. 

‘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,’ the company, Rust Movie Productions, said in a statement.

The company has emailed the crew and actors to tell them that production of the film was being halted, but called it ‘a pause rather than an end.’ 



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