The armorer on the set of Rust, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, said she checked to make sure no "hot" ammunition rounds were in the gun that was handed to Alec Baldwin before he pulled the trigger during a rehearsal and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, according to new court records.
In a new interview conducted by Santa Fe sheriff’s investigators released on Wednesday, Gutierrez Reed said that after she had checked the prop gun and determined there wasn’t any live ammunition, the crew took a lunch break and the “firearms were taken back and secured inside a safe on a prop truck.” The ammunition, however, was left out unsecured on a cart during the lunch break. According to Gutierrez Reed, only a few people had access to the safe combination where the gun was kept.
Prop master Sarah Zachry took the gun out of the safe after lunch and handed it to Gutierrez Reed after lunch. The armorer also said that during the course of filming Rust, she had handed the gun to Baldwin “a couple times,” as well as to assistant director Dave Halls. According to Gutierrez Reed, no live ammunition “is ever kept on set.”
Hutchins sustained a gunshot wound in her chest and was pronounced dead at the University of New Mexico Hospital after Baldwin fired the gun. Director Joel Souza was also injured.
According to a search warrant affidavit, the cast and crew were rehearsing a scene inside a rustic wooden building at the Bonanza Creek Ranch when Halls picked up a prop gun from a rolling cart outside, yelled, “Cold gun!” — indicating the firearm was safe to use — and handed it to Baldwin. Halls said he “did not know live rounds were in the gun,” according to an interview with investigators.
Souza said the assistant director — who has a history of disregarding safety protocols on set — was one of the three people handling weapons on the set of Rust. But several veteran prop masters and armorers told BuzzFeed News that this violates basic industry rules and that the armorer should have the sole responsibility of being in charge of firearms on set.
In a briefing on Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said there were about 100 people on set when the incident occurred and that “it’s too early right now in the investigation to comment on charges.”
“At this point, the investigation will continue, and if the sheriff’s office determines during the investigation [that] a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed. Otherwise, we will complete our investigation and forward the full investigation and evidence to the district attorney for review.”