Joe Gilbertson | May 23, 2022 | 8
“Rust” Armorer Breaks Silence Releases Statement Denying Blame
The young and inexperienced armorer has broken her silence on the tragedy that occurred on the “Rust” set, saying that the producers, and not her, are responsible for the shooting that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins.
Hannah Gutierrez Reed has finally spoken out – through her lawyers — to deny certain rumors about the on-set shooting involving Alec Baldwin that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead and director Joel Souza wounded.
Gutierrez Reed, the armorer on the set of “Rust,” who was responsible for the safety and handling of firearms on the set, is the main focus of the investigation into the death of Hutchins, according to Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza. She was one of the very few people who handled the gun prior to Baldwin discharging it on set last Thursday.
However, in a statement made through her attorneys that was provided to Fox News, New Mexico-based lawyers Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, Gutierrez Reed blamed rushed conditions on the low-budget set for the tragic mishap. She also disputed rumors that the crew used live ammunition for target practice and denied responsibility for two discharges that happened previously, according to the statement.
“Safety is Hannah’s number one priority on set,” her attorneys said in the statement. “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 notes that Gutierrez Reed continues to assert her claim that she never witnessed live rounds used in any of the guns she handled for the movie “Rust.” They also noted that she would not allow the use of live rounds under any circumstances.
The attorneys went on to state that the armorer herself has never had an accidental discharge of a firearm on set. However, they admitted that two took place on “Rust” that were not her fault.
“The first one on this set was the prop master and the second one was a stunt man after Hannah informed him his gun was hot with blanks,” they said.
As for the shooting, Mendoza said during a press conference that a live round was recovered from the director’s shoulder. In addition to that bullet, investigators found 500 rounds of ammunition, including a mix of blanks, dummy rounds, and what appeared to be live rounds.
In an affidavit, Gutierrez Reed previously told investigators that there should be no live ammo on the set at all. However, given the evidence found at this time, including live ammunition, Mendoza said this week that he believes that to be “not an accurate statement.”
In their statement, her attorneys seemingly shifted the blame away from the set’s armorer to a larger conversation about the resources she was given by producers to ensure the set was safe and up to protocol standards.
“Hannah was hired on two positions on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer,” Bowles and Gorence stated. They did not reveal what other position she was hired for on “Rust.”
The statement added, “She fought for training, days to maintain weapons, and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department.”
They noted that a lack of safety meetings was just one of the many factors that led to the set being somewhat unsafe. Indeed, the morning of the shooting, Souza previously told investigators that they were dealing with the fallout after camera crew members walked off the set amid discord over working conditions, including safety procedures. A new crew was hired that morning.
Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys also addressed rumors that live ammunition made its way to the set because crew members were using the weapons for target practice in their off-hours for fun.
“Hannah and the prop master gained control over the guns, and she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns, nor would she permit that,” the statement reads. “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.”
Despite Gutierrez Reed’s statement, district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said that criminal charges have not been ruled out for people involved, including Gutierrez Reed and Baldwin. However, as Gutierrez Reed tries to shift the blame to the producers of the film, it’s worth noting that includes Baldwin, who was a producer on “Rust” as well as an actor.
Several legal experts have noted that his position as a producer leaves him open to civil litigation, even if he escapes any criminal charges.