SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer who was fatally shot with a prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin on a movie set, grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle and worked as an investigative reporter in Europe before studying film in Los Angeles.
Hutchins, 42, was shot Thursday on the New Mexico set of the Western "Rust." A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident involving a prop gun with blanks. Detectives were investigating.
According to the Associated Press, an assistant director unwittingly handed Alec Baldwin a loaded weapon and told him it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot a cinematographer, court records released Friday show.
“Cold gun,” the assistant director announced, according to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court the AP reported.
Instead, the gun was loaded with live rounds, and when Baldwin pulled the trigger Thursday on the set of a Western, he killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, was wounded, the records obtained by the AP said.
ABC10's Creative Producer and Cinematographer Emilia Mendieta Cordova knew Hutchins well and called her a best friend.
Mendieta described Hutchins as the brightest light in the room.
"She was one of my biggest champions," Mendieta said through tears.
Mendieta and Hutchins went to the American Film Institute together and graduated in 2015. Mendieta shared her earliest memory of Hutchins on their first day of class. Mendieta remembered Hutchins' warm embrace and invitation to lunch that led to a long friendship.
"She was just the kindest, warmest best friend anyone could ever ask for," Mendieta said.
In a competitive industry, Mendieta said Hutchins quickly rose to the top.
"She saw what she wanted and she went for it. She was fearless that way and I was just like, I want to be like you when I grow up. She didn't let all these limitations that sometime come up limit her," Mendieta said.
Mendieta wants her best friend to be remembered as an incredibly driven professional but also as a kind person who would do anything for anyone.
To honor Hutchins, a memorial scholarship fund has been set up through the American Film Institute. For details, click here.