Filmmaker Joel Souza is speaking publicly for the first time since he was injured in an accidental shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's Rust, which he directs. In a statement shared with NBC News Saturday, Souza said he was "gutted" by the loss of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed when Baldwin discharged what he believed to be a prop gun containing blanks.
In the statement, Souza said, "I am gutted by the loss of my friend and colleague, Halyna," whom he remembered as "kind, vibrant, incredibly talented." Souza said Hutchins, 42, "fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better." He added that his "thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time." The Rust director shared his gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received amid the tragedy, telling the outlet, "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."
Souza was working as the director of photography for the western film alongside Souza at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Thursday when Baldwin discharged the prop firearm. According to an affidavit filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office over the weekend, neither Baldwin nor the first assistant director were aware the gun contained a live round. They had reportedly been rehearsing a scene during a break, and the film's armorer had previously placed three prop guns on a rolling cart. An assistant director grabbed one of the firearms and handed it to Baldwin and shouted "cold one," indicating that the gun did not contain any ammunition. However, when Baldwin pulled the trigger, the live projectile struck and killed Hutchins and injured Souza. Hutchins was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital, "where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel." Souza was transported to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries and later released.
A day after the shooting, Baldwin released a statement that said his "heart is broken." He added that "there are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life" of Hutchins, "a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours." Hutchins husband, Matthew Hutchins, added in a statement of his own that he had no "words to communicate the situation" and that he is "not going to be able to comment about the facts or the process of what we're going through right now." Matthew also confirmed he had been in touch with Baldwin, who he said was being very supportive.