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Alec Baldwin Fires Prop Gun on Movie Set, Kills Cinematographer, Wounds Director; Haiti Kidnap Victims Held by Notorious Gang. Aired 12-12:15a ET

Aired October 23, 2021 - 00:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Paula Newton.

We begin in the United States where new details are emerging, about the fatal shooting, on the set of Alec Baldwin's upcoming film, "Rust." A search warrant, revealing that an assistant director handed Baldwin a prop gun, that had been set up by an armorer.

Now the assistant director yelled, "cold gun." Meaning, it did not have live rounds. The actor fired it, while rehearsing a scene, hitting and killing, the film's cinematographer and injured its director.

The, the person who swore out the affidavit says the assistant director did not know it had live rounds. Of course. Listen to the 9- 1-1 call that came, in moments later.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the location of the emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bonanza Creek Ranch. We've had two people accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun. We need help immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So was it loaded with a real bullet or--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't -- I cannot tell you that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have two injuries from a movie gun shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, we're getting them out there already.


NEWTON: So much to report. The "L.A. Times" has said, several crew members had quit the production, due to safety concerns, including, gun safety protocols. CNN's Lucy Kafanov picking up the story from there.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, actor Alec Baldwin says he's fully cooperating in the investigation into the fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bonanza Creek Ranch; we've had two people accidentally shot.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Officials say they're still in the initial stages of their investigation into what led to the fatal incident, when Baldwin discharged a prop weapon on set.

Director Joel Souza rushed by ambulance to local hospital with injuries; the film's director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, was pronounced dead after being transported by helicopter to the hospital.

Police continue to interview witnesses and are looking into what type of projectile was fired from a prop gun, commonly used on movie sets, that aren't without their own risks.

JOSEPH FISHER, PROP MASTER: Prop weapons do have a dangerous factor to them, even though they're safer than using a live firearm on set.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Forty-two-year-old Hutchins, who posted on Instagram from the New Mexico location only days ago, lived in Los Angeles with her husband and son and was credited in the production of dozens of film, TV and video titles.

Today, Baldwin tweeting from the account he shares with his wife, "There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins. I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family."

These tragic accidents on movie sets have happened before. Actor Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, was killed in 1993 on the set of the movie, "The Crow," when a fragment of a dummy bullet became lodged in a prop gun, which fatally wounded Lee in the abdomen.

Shannon Lee posting on her brother's verified Twitter account, "Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and to all involved in the incident on 'Rust.' No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set, period."

KAFANOV: We're told that a search warrant has been issued for the Bonanza Creek Ranch where the shooting took place. Sheriffs say they'll be carefully combing the property throughout the weekend. They don't expect to update the public before Monday.

This as investigators try to piece together how this tragedy could have taken place -- Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Santa Fe, New Mexico.


NEWTON: The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union for stage and set workers, said it is heartbroken by the death of Halyna Hutchins. Its members were planning to strike this week over safety concerns until a deal was agreed to with studios.

Onset workers will now, designated rest periods, after they work 5 days in a row. Many workers, still, unsatisfied. One of them, setting up an Instagram page, which lists hundreds of anonymous stories of safety concerns.

Now they describe disturbing things, like working 36 straight hours, going an entire day without a bathroom break and working so long they, literally, fall asleep at the wheel.

With so many questions over how this, possibly, could have happened, I spoke with a theatrical firearms safety expert, earlier, about what a prop gun is and how it may differ, from a real gun.


STEVE WOLF, THEATRICAL FIREARMS SAFETY EXPERT: If I touch any gun, then that just became a prop.


WOLF: But a "prop gun," in quotes, per se, is a gun that's modified so it cannot fire live ammunition.

If I were to take live ammunition and put it inside of this gun, look at that. I'm saved by the gun.

Now if I take an identical looking gun, that is not a prop gun, it looks the same, right?

But look at that, live ammo goes in it. So very important to distinguish between a gun that is being used as a prop and a gun that's been modified, so that it cannot have live ammo introduced into it.


NEWTON: Halyna Hutchins' husband, in the meantime, is speaking out. He says their family needs some time, of course, to process her death.

Saying, quote, "I don't think there are words to communicate the situation. I am not able to comment about the facts or the process of what we are going through right now. But I appreciate that everyone has been very sympathetic."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says, when it comes to young children, the benefits of the Pfizer COVID vaccine outweigh the risks. Now the U.S. drug regulator, posting that assessment, late Friday. Earlier in the day. Pfizer posted data, showing, the vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in children, ages, 5 to 11.

The FDA said while the vaccine carries a theoretical risk of causing heart inflammation, the risk from COVID is higher, if enough virus is circulating. FDA vaccine advisers, meeting the next week, to evaluate Pfizer's application for emergency use authorization, of that shot.

British officials, say, soaring COVID case numbers are, within, what they, call their expectations. So they are saying they are sticking to the current playbook, no mask mandates, no lockdowns. But that is outraging some health experts. CNN Salma Abdelaziz, with more.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The British Medical Association, accusing the government here of willful negligence, over their refusal, to put tougher coronavirus restrictions in place, despite a surge in cases.

On Friday, the U.K. reported 49,000 new infections. That is an increase of an 18 percent, over the last 7 days. It, has many doctors and nurses, across this country, worried about a potential surge in cases during the winter that could really, push this country's health care system.

Still, the country's health secretary has said, for now, rules will not change. And those rules mean, masks are not mandated across England and neither are COVID passports. It has divided opinion on the streets of London.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do think we need to consider, maybe, bringing back some restrictions we had. Whether or not that needs to be a full lockdown, I think, we need to start bringing back some of the enforceable mask rules that we have had, last year and early this year. I really don't see an alternative. We will have to start bringing them back, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can only wear a mask when 100 percent necessary. I don't enjoy wearing masks. It's not something that I would've kept.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it makes a difference to wear a mask. So I am not 100 percent comfortable here, inside of some stores, where people don't use any masks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I, systematically, use a mask every day, outside and not inside my own house but everywhere I go. Fundamentally, it is important that people wear masks. If you look around here, most people are not.


ABDELAZIZ: Prime minister Boris Johnson's government does have a contingency plan. It is known as plan B. Authorities say, they won't roll it out for now but it does include mandating face masks and potentially, the use of COVID passports, encouraging people to work from home and, having the government explain and emphasize, the risks of this time.

Even if plan B was imposed, it would just put the U.K. just in line with other European countries -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


NEWTON: The U.S. embassy, in Haiti, issuing a new security alert over a nationwide strike on Monday and the ongoing threat of kidnappings. This, as 17 missionaries continue to be held by a notorious gang, 400 Mawozo, whose leader is threatening to kill them, if a multimillion- dollar ransom is not paid. Joe Johns, with more for us, from Haiti.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: As of Saturday, it will have been 7 days since the hostages were taken, outside of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, here in Haiti.

The case has followed a familiar script. First, there was the abduction and, then there was the astronomical demand for a ransom, $17 million, for the 17 hostages. Then, CNN was told, there has been proof of life.


JOHNS: The abductors have delivered to authorities' proof that they have not murdered the hostages.

And, at last, there was a threat against the hostages. The leader of the group in a video, recorded outside a funeral of individuals, he said were members of his own gang. He announced that he would kill the hostages, if he didn't get what he wants.

Other than that, not a lot of movement in this case, at least, so far. However, there have been developments on the law enforcement front. We are told that the chief of police of the Haitian national police has resigned.

It was abrupt but not really surprising, given the fact that the prime minister was under political pressure to get rid of the chief, due to the problems with kidnapping and the lack of security, here, in Haiti -- Joe Johns, CNN, Port-au-Prince.


NEWTON: A popular beach resort town in Mexico, is looking to boost police presence, after tourists were caught in the crossfire of a shootout between rival gangs; two women are dead, and three others wounded. Rafael Romo has more on what we know.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: The shooting happened Wednesday night, at a restaurant, that was open for business while people enjoyed their dinner. All of a sudden, a shooting broke out in what authorities described as a confrontation between members of criminal cells dedicated to drug dealing.

Two foreigners, killed. A woman from India, another from Germany. 3 other tourists from England, the Netherlands and Mexico were injured when they were caught the crossfire.

They were all inside of the restaurant. One woman, dying at the scene and the other in a local hospital, according to authorities. Officials say, one of the assailants who was injured, was caught shortly thereafter and taken to hospital.

The shooting happened at the beach resort of Tulum, a popular destination for international tourists in the state of Quintana Roo. This is the same state where other popular destinations, like Cancun and Cozumel, are located as well as the popular Caribbean coastline of sandy beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula, known as the Riviera Maya.

It does not appear that the shooters were targeting any tourists. Authorities, specifically, say that rival gangs were going after each other.

Arcano Bobachano (ph), Tulum's tourism secretary, told CNN that this is a bizarre and unprecedented case because tourists, never, are targeted. He called the incident a tragic loss of innocent life and something unacceptable, by all accounts, that took them by surprise.

Marciano Dzul Caamal, the local mayor, trying to assure locals and visitors, saying on Twitter, that security is his priority and that his administration is coordinating with the three levels of government to, quote, "recover the peace we deserve" -- Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.


I want to thank you for spending part of your day with, me. I'm Paula Newton Stay tuned for "MARKETPLACE AFRICA." You are watching CNN.