The fatal prop-gun shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's film 'Rust' is a tragedy. It's also not the first time this has happened.

The fatal prop-gun shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's film 'Rust' is a tragedy. It's also not the first time this has happened.
Brandon Lee died on the set of the "The Crow" after being hit by a gunshot from a prop firearm. Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images
  • Alec Baldwin shot a prop gun on a film set Thursday, resulting in the death of the cinematographer.
  • A prop master's union said the gun that Baldwin fired contained "a live single round."

Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a movie set in New Mexico on Thursday, fatally wounding the cinematographer and injuring the director. But this isn't the first time someone has died on set due to a prop gun, and the incident is drawing comparisons to the deaths of actors Brandon Lee and Jon-Erik Hexum.

Baldwin and the crew were shooting "Rust" at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe when the "Miami Vice" actor discharged the firearm. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died after being transported by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital while director Joel Souza was treated at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and has since been discharged, according to another of the film's stars.

According to an email from IATSE Local 44, a prop master's union, the prop gun that Baldwin fired contained "a live single round" that hit both Hutchins and Souza. The union has called the incident an "accidental weapons discharge."

No charges have been filed as of Friday morning, although the shooting remains under investigation and "Rust" has halted production for an "undetermined period of time." An emotional Baldwin was photographed outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Thursday.

Others have died on film and TV sets due to injuries from prop firearms

Thursday's incident isn't the first time a prop-gun shooting has killed someone working on a set.


Brandon Lee died on the set of "The Crow" in 1993 after he was struck by a .44-caliber bullet that lodged near his spine. The 28-year-old son of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee was filming the scene where his character was supposed to die when he was struck.

According to the reports in the Los Angeles Times at the time of the incident, Detective Rodney Simmons of the Wilmington Police Department said that the blank round that hit Lee "discharged like a loaded firearm" after a bullet that "had remained in the cylinder or the barrel" of the gun was pushed out by the blank.

Lee's sister, Shannon, who runs Lee's official Twitter account, tweeted early Friday morning: "Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on 'Rust.'"

"No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set," she wrote.

Nine years before Lee's death, actor Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot himself on the set of "Cover Up" in 1984.


According to Newsweek, Hexum was playing around with the prop gun and jokingly held the firearm to his head to complain about shoot delays. The blank hit his skull causing a fracture that led to serious hemorrhaging in his brain.

Hexum died six days later.

Filmmakers are calling for an end to using blanks in prop firearms after Hutchins' death

In addition to paying tribute to Hutchins after her unexpected death, many filmmakers are saying it's time to stop using blanks in prop guns on movie sets.

Craig Zobel, the director of "Mare of Easttown," tweeted on Friday that loading guns with blanks "should just be fully outlawed."

"There's computers now. The gunshots on Mare of Easttown are all digital," the director said. "You can probably tell, but who cares? It's an unnecessary risk."


Rachel Morrison, who in 2017 famously became the first woman cinematographer ever nominated for an Oscar, wrote on her Instagram story that there is "no fathomable reason" to continue using blanks "when it costs like 50c to add gunfire" in post-production editing.

"I am so mad at this needless and completely preventable loss," she wrote.

Morrison added: "Also if you don't have enough funding to make a film safely, you shouldn't be making it. No shot, no scene, and no movie is worth the loss of life."