Rust armorer speaks out on fatal shooting accident: 'No idea where the live rounds came from'
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer for the Western film Rust, is speaking out after the discharge of a firearm being used as a prop fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza last week.
In a statement provided to EW by her lawyers Friday, Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for weapons on the Santa Fe, N.M., set, maintained that there are "untruths that have been told to the media" and that she is "devastated and completely beside herself over the events that have transpired."
According to information provided to authorities by Souza, as cited in affidavits obtained by EW, the deadly incident occurred when actor and producer Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene last Thursday, and was told by assistant director Dave Halls that the gun — one of three props that had been set up by Gutierrez-Reed — was "cold," meaning it did not contain live rounds. Per the affidavit, which was issued as part of a search warrant application, the AD "did not know live rounds were in the prop-gun" when he said this. The rehearsal then involved Baldwin "cross drawing his weapon and pointing the revolver towards the camera lens." The gun fired, striking Hutchins and Souza.
The statement from Gutierrez-Reed's attorneys, Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, said, "Safety is Hannah's No. 1 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."
It added: "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 whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings. This was not the fault of Hannah."
Gutierrez-Reed and her legal team said they would address "more of these rumors and the whole incident" in a statement next week.
They also said Gutierrez-Reed "would like to extend her deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Halyna," calling the late cinematographer "an inspirational woman in film who Hannah looked up to."
Gutierrez-Reed, 24, is the daughter of veteran armorer and gun coach Thell Reed. She said on the Voices of the West podcast in September that she had just completed her first movie as head armorer on another Western, The Old Way, set for release next year. "You know, I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly," she said.
In a press conference Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said that authorities recovered 500 rounds of ammunition (including a mix of blanks and possible live rounds) and three firearms, including the one discharged by Baldwin, from the Bonanza Creek Ranch set. They also have the lead projectile recovered from Souza's shoulder when he received medical treatment. (Souza has since been released from the hospital.)
Mendoza and Carmack-Altwies said the investigation is ongoing and "all options are on the table" with regard to possible charges being filed, though none have been filed at this time.
For his part, Baldwin addressed the tragic incident on social media late last week.
"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours," Baldwin tweeted. "I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna."