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“We need help immediately.”
Those were the words of an employee who called 911 on Thursday, after actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed director of photography Halyna Hutchins and injured another on the set of the upcoming film Rust, while he was using what he thought was a prop gun.
“We need an ambulance at Bonanza Creek Ranch right now,” the caller, Mamie Mitchell, listed on IMDB as the film’s script supervisor, tells emergency dispatchers. “We have two people shot on a movie set accidentally.”
The call captures the confusion and anguish on set the day of the shooting, and gets at many of the questions now being asked of how such a tragic accident could occur.
“Was it loaded with a real bullet?” the emergency dispatcher says. Ms Mitchell says she isn’t sure.
Baldwin, who was seen in tears after the fatal incident at a film set in New Mexico, had apparently been told by an assistant director that the weapon was a “cold gun”, and therefore supposedly safe to fire. The gun one was one of three prop weapons supplied by the film’s armorer, which were arrayed on a cart on set, according to a search warrant in Santa Fe court.
Instead, during the rehearsal, a projectile flew out of the barrel, killing Ms Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
On the 911 call, the film crew’s anger and confusion over what happened is evident.
“He’s supposed to check the guns,” Ms Mitchell says of an unnamed crew member. “He’s responsible for what happened.”
Once the gun went off, “We all ran out,” the script supervisor continued.
There had apparently been warning signs about safety on set before the accidental death. Just hours prior to the shooting, a half-dozen employees walked off set to protest what they thought were lacklustre working and safety conditions — including with the movie’s stand-in weapons.
A camera operator told The Los Angeles Times they complained to a production manager about gun safety on the set, after prop guns were accidentally discharged on set twice over the weekend.
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” the crew member told the Times. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
Three unnamed sources told the paper that standard safety protocols, around issues like firearms, weren’t being followed during the production of the low-budget film.The Independent has reached out to Cavalry Media, one of the producers of the film, for comment.