Film director who was shot by Alec Baldwin says it felt like being hit by a baseball bat

March 4, 2024 2:34 pm

[Source: AP]

A movie director who was shot by Alec Baldwin during a movie rehearsal — and survived — testified Friday at trial that he was approaching the cinematographer when he heard a loud bang and felt the bullet’s impact.

“It felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to my shoulder,” said Joel Souza, who was wounded by the same bullet that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set for the upcoming Western movie “Rust” on Oct. 21, 2021.

Souza never filed a complaint but was called to testify as prosecutors pursue charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence against movie weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who maintains her innocence. Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer on “Rust,” was separately indicted by a grand jury last month. He has pleaded not guilty, and a trial is scheduled for July.

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Prosecutors are reconstructing a complex chain of events that culminated in gunfire on a film set where live ammunition is expressly prohibited.

Souza said his workday began before dawn with the realization that six camera-crew members had walked off set. Hutchins put out urgent calls for replacements, and filming was back underway by late-morning in an outdoor scene involving horses and wagons.

Work after lunch started with positioning a camera in preparation for an extreme close-up take of Baldwin drawing a gun from a holster inside a makeshift church. Souza said he moved in behind Hutchins for a closer look at the camera angle but never saw the gun that shot him.

“I got up behind her just to try to see on the monitor, and there was an incredibly loud bang,” Souza said. “This was deafening.”

Baldwin and his handling of firearms on set are coming under special scrutiny in questioning by prosecutor and defense attorneys.