‘Inexperienced, Green’ Armourer on Alec Baldwin Film Set Described as ‘Careless With Guns’ Before

© AP Photo / Brent N. ClarkeActor Alec Baldwin attends the screening for "Framing John DeLorean" during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at the SVA Theatre on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in New York.
Actor Alec Baldwin attends the screening for Framing John DeLorean during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at the SVA Theatre on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in New York.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.10.2021
An investigation is ongoing into the fatal incident on the film set of Rust, where actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza with a supposedly "safe" prop gun set out for him by a 24-year old armourer.
“Inexperienced” 24-year old armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was identified in a Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office search warrant affidavit as the one who had laid out the fatal prop gun for actor Alec Baldwin on the set of the film “Rust”, had previously raised concerns over her manner of handling firearms, reported The Daily Beast.
The Hollywood actor had subsequently discharged the weapon declared ‘safe’ by the assistant director yet containing live ammunition, killing 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding 48-year-old director Joel Souza on 21 October. No charges have been brought, but the sheriff’s office’s investigation is “active and ongoing”.
‘Careless and Unsafe’
Before joining the set of upcoming New Mexico film Rust, Gutierrez-Reed had debuted in the capacity of head of the firearms department on her previous movie, The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage.
Filming there was briefly halted once after she allegedly handed a prop gun to an 11-year-old without checking it properly, production sources are cited by the outlet as saying. Gutierrez-Reed is said to have loaded a gun on the ground, then failed to check it properly before handing it to child actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong.
At that point crew members reportedly intervened, with filming put on pause until Gutierrez-Reed had double checked the firearm for barrel obstruction.
“She was reloading the gun on the ground, where there were pebbles and stuff. We didn’t see her check it, we didn’t know if something got in the barrel or not,” a source was quoted as explaining.
A source who worked alongside the young armourer on the upcoming film, The Old Way –Nicolas Cage's first Western - is cited as saying that Gutierrez-Reed was "a bit careless with the guns".
"There were a couple times she was loading the blanks and doing it in a fashion that we thought was unsafe,” said the source.
The young armourer, trained to handle guns by her father, Hollywood veteran firearms consultant Thell Reed, had previously admitted she wasn't sure she was ready for the job in a podcast interview with the Voices of the West in September. “I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly,” said Gutierrez-Reed at the time, adding that she thought loading blank rounds into firearms was “the scariest thing.”
However, according to the production sources cited by The Daily Beast, a lack of attention to gun safety under Gutierrez-Reed’s watch on the set of The Old Way had raised red flags for many.

“There were several concerns I brought to production’s attention… I have been around firearms my entire life and noticed some things that were not okay even with loaded blank firearms,” said another production source.

This comes as sources on the set of Rust have also echoed safety concerns, while also deploring the production’s low budget and cost-cutting approach to filming.
Gutierrez-Reed was described as being “inexperienced and green” by an unnamed individual involved in the production, who claimed that there had been at least two previous cases of prop guns accidentally discharged by crew members before the tragic killing of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Furthermore, the cited sources believe that assistant director Dave Halls, named in the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office search warrant affidavit as the one who handed the gun to Alec Baldwin and said it was “safe”, should have also checked it. “He’s supposed to be our last line of defence and he failed us. He’s the last person that’s supposed to look at that firearm,” added the source.
The Actors’ Equity Association’s guidelines states that guns should be test-fired before use.
“All loading of firearms must be done by the property master, armorer or experienced persons working under their direct supervision,” reads the guidance.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed had laid out three prop guns on a cart, with Halls, who has worked on numerous productions, including Fargo and The Matrix Reloaded, taking one of the weapons and giving it to Baldwin, shouting “cold gun” on set, states the affidavit.
A “cold gun” refers to a weapon that does not contain cartridges, including blanks. A “hot gun” is loaded with cartridges, either live ammunition or blank rounds.
According to one person from the set of Rust, the first assistant director should have personally verified the fact that the prop gun was, indeed, safe.
“This check alone should’ve prevented this incident,” said the source.
According to the warrant, seconds later Baldwin aimed the weapon towards the camera and pulled the trigger.
The fatal bullet struck Hutchins in the chest, and then struck director Joel Souza, standing behind her, in the shoulder, injuring him.
According to witnesses on the set, a stunned Baldwin had asked:
“Why was I handed a hot gun?”
Crew members reportedly complained to Dave Halls about the previous accidental gun discharges. “All of us yelled at him, ‘That better be on the production report, these guys are irresponsible and shouldn’t be here,’” a source is quoted as saying, adding:
“The first time that gun went off without telling anybody, that whole department should have been replaced, immediately. Clearly production thought better of it, decided to roll the dice and pay the ultimate price.”
Earlier, The Albuquerque Journal cited an audio recording of a 911 call, ostensibly made by script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, that seemed to reference Halls as she asked that an ambulance be sent to the set at Bonanza Creek Ranch, on the outskirts of Santa Fe.
According to media outlets citing the call, Mitchell can be overheard saying “this f***ing AD that yelled at me at lunch asking about revisions… Did you see him lean over my desk and yell at me? He’s supposed to check the guns. He’s responsible for what happened.”
After the fatal incident, in a statement provided to media, Rust Movie Productions said:
“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”
On 22 October Alec Baldwin expressed his condolences to the family of the killed cinematographer, and reiterated he was offering the investigators his full cooperation.
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