Rust director Joel Souza who was shot by Alec Baldwin says he’s ‘gutted by the loss’ of Halyna Hutchins

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The director of Rust has issued his first statement following his hospitalisation for a gunshot wound from a prop firearm fired by Alec Baldwin that killed the film’s director of photography.

“I am gutted by the loss of my friend and colleague, Halyna,” Joel Souza said in a statement first obtained by Deadline on 23 October. “She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch, and always pushed me to be better.”

He added that he is “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,” he said.

Mr Baldwin – who co-wrote, produces and stars in the film – discharged a prop firearm on the set, reportedly striking Mr Souza’s shoulder and Ms Hutchins, who was flown to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead on 21 October.

The director was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance and released on 22 October.

An affidavit from the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office claims that Mr Baldwin was handed one of several prop guns, which an assistant director announced was a “cold gun” without any live rounds.

The assistant director “did not know live rounds were in the prop gun” and told police that the firearms were inspected by an on-set armourer, according to the affidavit.

The firearm “discharged” during an indoor rehearsal scene on 21 October at Bonanza Creek Ranch, according to the affidavit. Police have sought possible footage of the fatal shooting, as well as other firearms on the set and phones belonging to crew members that might have recorded video.

Matt Hutchins, Halyna’s husband, said in a statement on social media on Friday that his wife and mother of their child “inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words”.

“Our loss is enormous, and we ask that the media please respect my family’s privacy as we process our grief,” he said. “We thank everyone for sharing images and stories of her life.”

In his first public comments after the shooting, Mr Baldwin said: “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 said he is cooperating with authorities; no charges have been filed.

The incident has underscored film workers’ concerns over workplace safety and renewed an organised labour push for better working conditions, after the union representing roughly 60,000 film workers reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood bosses averting a national strike.

Members of the Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) union and “below-the-line” workers – including grips, set artists and camera operators – have amplified concerns and complaints across social media and in the wake of the recent tragedy to link set dangers to poor contracts.

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