'Rust' Armorer Blames Producers, 'Unsafe' Set for Alec Baldwin Shooting
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the 24-year-old armorer in charge of Rust set weapons the day Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, is “devastated” by the tragedy and pointing fingers at producers and an “unsafe” set, according to a new statement from her lawyers.
The lawyers claim Gutierrez-Reed has “no idea” how a live bullet found its way into the Colt revolver handed to Baldwin by assistant director Dave Halls before the deadly discharge on Oct. 21 and that her requests for more time and training during filming at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, were rebuffed.
“Hannah was hired on two positions on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer. She fought for training, days to maintain weapons, and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department,” the statement from lawyer lawyers Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence claims. “The whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings. This was not the fault of Hannah.”
The lawyers say their client has been “falsely portrayed” in reports containing “untruths” about her level of professionalism on the film.
“Safety is Hannah’s number one priority on set. Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from,” the statement says. “Hannah and the prop master gained control over the guns and she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that. They were locked up every night and at lunch and there’s no way a single one of them was unaccounted for or being shot by crew members.”
The lawyers say Guttierez-Reed, whose other prior gig as head armorer was for the upcoming western The Old Way, starring Clint Howard and Nicolas Cage, “has never had an accidental discharge.” They say the prior two unexpected discharges on Rust that preceded the deadly shooting of Hutchins involved the set’s prop master and a stunt man who fired his weapon after Gutierrez-Reed “informed him his gun was hot with blanks.”
Gutierrez-Reed, who gave a statement to investigators and is said to be cooperating, is due to address the “rumors” related to her work in a follow-up statement next week, the lawyers said.
“Hannah would like to extend her deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Halyna. She was an inspirational woman in film who Hannah looked up to. She also offers her thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery to Joel. Hannah is devastated and completely beside herself over the events that have transpired,” the lawyers say.
In her statement to Santa Fe County Sheriff’s investigators, Gutierrez-Reed said no live ammo was ever kept on set and that the day of the incident, she checked the dummy rounds in Baldwin’s revolver to ensure they weren’t “hot.”
For his part, Halls told investigators Gutierrez-Reed opened the gun for him to inspect before the rehearsal resumed that afternoon and that he could only remember seeing three rounds, according to the affidavit.
“He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum,” the affidavit states.
Halls told investigators that after the shooting, Gutierrez-Reed opened the gun in front of him to reveal at least four dummy casings with holes drilled in their sides and one round without the telltale hole that “did not have the ‘cap’ on it and was just a casing,” the paperwork reveals.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said a “lead projectile” had been recovered from the shoulder of Rust director Joel Souza, who had been standing behind Hutchins and was also injured.
“I think there was some complacency on this set,” Mendoza told reporters, saying it was still too soon to discuss possible criminal charges.
Asked about reports that one or more crew members had used Baldwin’s “hero” revolver for “target practice” either on or off the set, Mendoza declined to say whether his investigators had heard anything similar in witness interviews.
“We are aware of those statements, and we are investigating whether or not that is true or isn’t true. I would encourage anyone with any information about any target practicing or any firearm that was discharged away from the movie set or for practice or for whatever reason to contact the sheriff’s office,” he said.
Mendoza said searches of the set turned up “approximately 500 rounds of ammunition” described as a mix of blanks, dummy, and what might be more live rounds. “We have recovered what we believe to be possible, additional live rounds on set,” he said Wednesday.
Halls, who has faced intense scrutiny, was previously fired from the set of the indie movie Freedom’s Path after an accidental discharge of a weapon on that set, the producers confirmed following a report from CNN.
A camera operator on Freedom’s Path also told Rolling Stone that Halls declined to give 74-year-old veteran actress Carol Sutton a crash pad during a scene that required her to fall to her knees. She suffered an injury while filming the scene.
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