The attorneys representing the lead armorer on the set of “Rust” have suggested that crew members who departed the production on the day Halnya Hutchins died may have ‘sabotaged’ the prop gun involved in her fatal shooting.
On October 21, actor Alec Baldwin was prepping for a scene on the western’s Santa Fe set when the prop gun he was handling discharged a live round, striking Hutchins and the film’s director Joel Souza, who survived his injury. Authorities are continuing to investigate the fatal incident, and no charges have been filed.
The production’s lead armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of prop weapons on the set, has been the subject of reports about previous safety mishaps and perceived inexperience. In a statement issued through her lawyer last week, Gutierrez-Reed denied responsibility for the fatal shooting and claimed she was a victim of media slander.
A Los Angeles Times investigative report found the several members of the camera crew left the production on the morning of Hutchins’ death, following conflicts about hours and budgeting. The camera crew members who lived in Albuquerque, an hour’s drive from Santa Fe, were allegedly denied lodging even after working past midnight. In one instance, a crew member reportedly slept for hours in his car because he did not feel he could drive safely.
On Wednesday, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers appeared on the “Today” show and pointed a finger at those crew members, suggesting that one or more of them may have intentionally “sabotaged” the prop guns.
“I believe that somebody who would do that would want to sabotage the set, want to prove a point, want to say that they’re disgruntled, they’re unhappy,” Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney Jason Bowles told Today. “And we know that people had walked off the set the day before.”
“We know there was a live round in a box of dummy rounds that shouldn’t have been there …We have people who had left the set, who had walked out because they were disgruntled. We have a time frame between 11 [a.m.] and 1 [p.m.], approximately, that day, in which the firearms at times were unattended, so there was opportunity to tamper with this scene.”
As Rolling Stone reports, Alec Baldwin shared screenshots on his Instagram account of a social media post by the production’s costume designer Terese Magpale Davis denying that crews were subject to unsafe conditions.
“I am so sick of this narrative,” Davis wrote in the Facebook post, which appears to have been since deleted. “I worked on this movie. The story being spun of us being overworked and surrounded by unsafe, chaotic conditions is bullshit.”
Baldwin commented “read this” on his Instagram post, indicating that he agreed with Davis’s comments. Baldwin was a producer as well as a lead actor on “Rust.”
[Feature image: A film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch appears in Santa Fe, N.M., Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. A camera operator told authorities that Alec Baldwin had been careful with weapons on the set of the film “Rust” before the actor shot and killed a cinematographer with a gun he’d been told was safe to use, court records released Sunday show. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)]