Rust armorer has 'no idea' how live rounds got on Alec Baldwin movie set, lawyers say

Alec Baldwin (left) was rehearsing a scene in the movie Rust when the gun discharged, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins (right). PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) - Attorneys for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the set of the film where Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer last week as he rehearsed with a gun he was told had no live ammunition, issued a statement on Friday (Oct 29) defending her adherence to safety protocols and saying she did not know how live rounds wound up on the set in New Mexico.

"Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from," Gutierrez-Reed's attorneys, Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, said in the first public statement on her behalf.

In their statement, they charged that the set of the film, Rust, had been unsafe, and that Gutierrez-Reed, 24, had been hired to two positions on the 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," it said.

"The whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings. This was not the fault of Hannah."

Either way, the production set was awash in guns and ammunition. In addition to the guns and ammunition that were recovered in an earlier search, detectives found more when they searched a white prop truck on the set, Detectives Alexandria Hancock and Marissa Poppell with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office said in a court document released on Friday.

The detectives recovered 12 revolvers; one rifle; a bandolier (a belt usually slung sash-style over the shoulder to hold ammunition); four cardboard boxes with miscellaneous ammunition; a spent blank, and one "45 Colt round."

Gutierrez-Reed - who also goes by Hannah Reed and Hannah Gutierrez - was relatively inexperienced as a head armorer. In a recent podcast, she noted that she had just finished filming her first movie as head armorer in a western called The Old Way, starring Clint Howard and Nicolas Cage, that is set for release next year, saying, "I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready."

Gutierrez-Reed has also come under scrutiny for reports of unexpected gun discharges on the sets of films that she has worked on.

The attorneys said that they wanted "to address some untruths that have been told to the media, which have falsely portrayed her and slandered her," and said that safety was her "number one priority on set."

While some news accounts have suggested there might have been recreational shooting on the set, reports law enforcement officials called "unconfirmed," the attorneys said in their statement that the guns being used for the film could not have been used for such activities.

"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," the statement said. "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."

In the week since the shooting at Bonanza Creek Ranch, which killed the movie's director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and wounded its director, Joel Souza, Gutierrez-Reed and the film's assistant director, Dave Halls, have come under scrutiny, since they both handled the Colt .45 being used in the film before it was handed to Baldwin.

The gun was declared "cold," meaning it was not supposed to contain any live ammunition, according to court papers. But when it went off as Baldwin practiced drawing it, it fired a real bullet, which struck and killed Hutchins and wounded Souza, Sheriff Adan Mendoza of Santa Fe County said at a news conference on Wednesday.

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Three former crew members on Rust said there were at least two accidental discharges on set on Oct 16, days before the fatal shooting.

In the attorneys' statement, they said Gutierrez-Reed "has never had an accidental discharge" during her career.

They suggested that others had been responsible for the two accidental discharges on the Rust set: "The first one on this set was the prop master and the second was a stunt man after Hannah informed him his gun was hot with blanks."

"Hannah is devastated and completely beside herself over the events that have transpired," the statement said.

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