Joel Souza, the director of Rust who was injured when Alec Baldwin unknowingly fired a live round on the New Mexico set, has issued his first statement since the incident that also claimed the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
“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,” Souza said in a statement to Deadline.
“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.”
Following the on-set incident Thursday, Souza was transported by ambulance to Santa Fe’s Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for his injuries. He was released later that day.
Baldwin was handed a prop gun with “live rounds” in the minutes before the on-set incident. According to the Santa Fe County sheriff’s department, Baldwin was handed the gun by the film’s assistant director, who announced it was a “cold gun,” meant to denote it was a firearm without live rounds in it. However, when Baldwin pulled the trigger, a round fired and struck Hutchins in the chest and Souza in the shoulder.
The assistant director told investigators he “did not know live rounds were in the prop gun.” The firearm was one of three the movie’s armorer — a weapons specialist — set up on a tray outside the church structure where the scene was filmed; the sheriff’s department is still investigating why live rounds were in the prop gun.
“This case is still in its preliminary states of investigation,” New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told Deadline. “At this time, we do not know if charges will be filed. We will look into all facts and evidence of the case with great discretion and have further information at a later time.”