Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer who oversaw the prop weapons used on the Rust movie set, has made her first public statements.
Through her attorneys, the 24-year-old — who’s at the center of the investigation along with assistant director David Halls — shared her side of the story for the first time about the fatal shooting of the film’s director of photography Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin when he was rehearsing with what he had been told by Halls was a “cold,” or safe, gun. Previously, only comments Gutierrez-Reed made to authorities were released as part of a search warrant filed in the investigation.
“First, Hannah would like to extend her deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Halyna,” the statement from Gutierrez-Reed’s legal team began. “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 statement went on to “address some untruths that have been told to the media, which have falsely portrayed [and] slandered” Gutierrez-Reed.
“Safety is Hannah’s number one priority on set,” the statement says. “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 continued, “Hannah and the prop master,” previously identified as Sarah Zachry, “gained control over the guns and [Gutierrez-Reed] never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that,” it said. “[The guns] 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.”
Gutierrez-Reed seemingly confirmed reports there were two accidental discharges prior to Baldwin — who was rehearsing a scene with what he had been told was a “cold” gun — shooting Hutchins.
“Hannah still, to this day, has never had an accidental discharge,” the statement said. “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.”
Gutierrez-Reed claimed the independent film set was “unsafe,” but said it was not because of her.
“Hannah was hired on two positions on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer,” the statement said. “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’s attorneys, Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, “will address more of these rumors and the whole incident” next week.
How the live ammunition got to the set on the Bonanza Creek Ranch is at the center of the investigation, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday. So are Gutierrez-Reed and Halls, the two people who are supposed to check any weapons before giving them to an actor.
There should not be live ammunition on a movie set, the sheriff said, but it was a live bullet that fatally shot Hutchins before landing in director Joel Souza’s shoulder. Investigators took into evidence from the set some 500 rounds, including live, blanks and dummy bullets — as well at the three guns being used, including the .45 Long Colt revolver, which fired the fatal shot. It’s all being tested at the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va.
According to a search warrant filed Wednesday, Gutierrez-Reed told authorities no live ammunition should be on the set. She said the guns were locked in a prop van, which a limited number of people had the combination for, when everyone broke for lunch. However, the ammunition was left out on a cart and “not secured.” After lunch, Zachry pulled the firearms out of the safe and handed them to her. She said during the course of filming the movie, sometimes she handed a gun to Baldwin directly and other times she handed it Halls.
Halls, whose job it is to check the armorer’s work by looking in the barrel before passing the gun to the actor, said Gutierrez-Reed showed him the gun, but he couldn’t remember if she spun the drum to show him all the ammunition, to make sure it only had dummy bullets. He admitted he should have more thoroughly examined the weapon but didn’t, the affidavit claimed.
The sheriff said investigators hope to interview Gutierrez-Reed and Halls again to clear up new questions they have. It was noted they — as well as Baldwin — had all been cooperative with the investigation so far.
Baldwin returned to the East Coast, where he primary lives in two New York locations, but has been staying in a small town in Vermont with his family.