Joel Souza, the writer and director of “Rust,” testified before a jury on Friday about being shot while filming a scene with Alec Baldwin in an old Western church in October 2021.

He stated he heard a thunderous blast and “felt like somebody had taken a baseball bat to my shoulder.”

He lurched backward, dropped to his knees, and collapsed on the floor, screaming in anguish. He saw blood on the back of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who had been fatally wounded. He also recalls the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, entering the chapel and apologizing.

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“She looked distraught,” Souza added. “I remember her saying ‘I’m sorry.'” “I am sorry, Joel.” And I remember someone yelling at her, and they just escorted her out.”

Gutierrez Reed is on trial for involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death after allegedly improperly placing a live cartridge into Baldwin’s gun instead of a dummy. Souza’s testimony is the first time he has publicly shared his account of the shooting.

Souza, who was lying on the floor, stated he had no idea what had transpired. He stated he assumed something was trapped in the pistol barrel, but he didn’t realize it was an actual bullet.

He laid on the ground for a few minutes, exchanging a gaze with Hutchins — “She had the biggest brown eyes I’d ever seen,” he claimed — before being loaded onto a stretcher and rushed to hospital. He stated that he requested to be taken to the same hospital as Hutchins, but was told that this was not possible.

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At the hospital, he learned that he had been shot. He still did not believe it.

“I kept saying, ‘You don’t understand.'” This is a film set. “That’s not possible,” Souza stated. “They eventually got weary of my complaining about it. They gave me an X-ray of my back, and there was a huge bullet in it.”

Souza also discussed the film’s development. He previously directed the film “Crown Vic,” which Baldwin produced. They then discussed future projects they may work on together. Souza wanted to make a Western, which Baldwin felt was intriguing and recruited him to write the screenplay.

He also described in full his decision to hire Hutchins, stating that he had been impressed by her previous work. When they met via Zoom, they had a lengthy talk, connecting over their different filmmaking influences.

“She was very eager to shoot a Western; all directors are. “It’s just a really interesting thing to do visually,” Souza explained. “We had a shared vision for the film.” My allusions were always a little more popular, whereas she was talking about an avant-garde Russian filmmaker. That’s a weakness in my game. She was about to fill it. I enjoyed that.”

Souza stated that he had little expertise with guns on set. “Crown Vic” only had a few scenes with firearms, and he had no prior experience with them.

“Outside of movies, I have nothing to do with guns,” he told me.

He admitted he had no idea what a “dummy” round was until after the incident. He also stated that he was unfamiliar with the labor-management safety guidelines that govern the use of firearms on set.

Bulletins are usually affixed to call sheets on film sets, however this was not done for “Rust.” Souza stated that the original assistant director, David Halls, was the safety officer, but that everyone on the crew is accountable for safety.

Earlier on Friday, the defense cross-examined the film’s prop master, Sarah Zachry. Zachry worked with Gutierrez Reed to load firearms. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, she unloaded two firearms carried by other actors and discarded the dummies.

“I think it was a reactive decision,” Zachry testified Thursday, adding that she was “in a state of shock and panic.”

The defense has claimed that Zachry was acting on the orders of Seth Kenney, a supplier of firearms and ammo for the production. The defense claims that Kenney was responsible for mixing real and dummy bullets, while the prosecution has presented proof that Gutierrez Reed, not Kenney, brought a contaminated dummy box to the set.

Following the shooting, Zachry texted Kenney “Emergency!” and they spoke briefly. Zachry stated Kenney appeared “mortified.” She disputed that the call was related to her decision to throw away dummy rounds.

“When you made that decision, was that Mr. Kenney directing you to do something?” asked Jason Bowles, the defense attorney.

“No,” Zachry replied.

A month after the shooting, Zachry came forward to authorities and admitted to throwing the dummy shots away. Detectives were unable to find them.

Zachry entered into a cooperation agreement with prosecutors last October, promising to testify at the trial in exchange for immunity from prosecution for evidence disposal.

Zachry and Gutierrez Reed occasionally battled over Gutierrez Reed’s failure to perform her duties as a prop assistant. Zachry said that she wanted to terminate Gutierrez Reed from her position on props. Gutierrez Reed also called her a foul expletive while on set.

Zachry was very unhappy with Gutierrez Reed following the shooting incident.

“I hope she’s put in jail,” Zachry wrote in a text message. “This is outrageous.”

Kenney is expected to testify on Monday.