Injured 'Rust' Director Testifies at Armorer's Trial

Shocking revelations emerge in 'Rust' shooting courtroom drama

by Zain ul Abedin
Injured 'Rust' Director Testifies at Armorer's Trial
© KRQE/Youtube

In a gripping testimony at the Santa Fe, New Mexico court, "Rust" director Joel Souza recounted the harrowing moments following a fatal shooting incident on the set of the Western film that led to the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and left him injured.

The incident, which occurred in October 2021, unfolded as actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene, inadvertently discharging a live round from a prop gun. Describing the atmosphere as "chaotic" and filled with "confusion," Souza detailed the shock and disbelief that gripped the set.

"There was an incredibly loud bang, unlike anything typical to film production sounds. It was deafening," he shared with the court. Souza, who was positioned directly behind Hutchins, felt an impact likened to being hit with a baseball bat, initially unaware of the gravity of the situation.

It was only upon witnessing the blood on Hutchins' back did the reality of the dire circumstances set in. The court listened intently as Souza relayed the immediate aftermath, marked by panic and efforts to assist Hutchins, who later succumbed to her injuries.

Souza himself was rushed to the hospital, grappling with disbelief over being struck by a live round. He also recalled armorer Hannah Gutierrez's distraught apology post-incident, highlighting the palpable distress that enveloped the set.

Trial Illuminates Oversight

The trial also shed light on David Halls, the film's safety coordinator, who faced scrutiny for his role in the safety check of the Colt .45 revolver used during the rehearsal. Despite conducting the check, Halls admitted to a lapse in ensuring the firearm's safety, resulting in his sentencing to unsupervised probation earlier in March 2023.

Souza's testimony not only revisited the tragic events but also highlighted his admiration for Hutchins' work, underscoring the loss felt by the film community. His account adds to the ongoing narrative of the trial, where Gutierrez faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering, vehemently denied by her defense.

The proceedings have cast a spotlight on the importance of stringent safety protocols on film sets, with testimonies from various crew members raising concerns about Gutierrez's experience and adherence to safety measures.

The trial continues to unravel the circumstances leading to Hutchins' death, amid broader discussions on accountability and safety in the film industry. As the state prepares to present further evidence, the film world watches closely, hoping for justice and reforms to prevent such tragedies in the future.