Hours after an explosive interview insinuating disgruntled “Rust” crew members may have planted a live round in the prop gun that killed a cinematographer, the lawyers for the lead armorer on the set revised their claim about how long the weapon had been unattended.
Halnya Hutchins was fatally shot on October 21 when a gun Alec Baldwin was handling discharged and hit the 42-year-old cinematographer in the torso. The film’s director Joel Souza was also shot, but has since been released from the hospital. As previously reported, some camera crew members left the Santa Fe-based production on the morning of the fatal shooting, believing that budget constraints were negatively impacting safety protocols.
In interviews on the “Today” show and with the New York Times, lawyers representing Hannah Gutierrez-Reed claimed the prop gun had been unattended for two hours during a lunch break.
“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,” attorney Jason Bowles said on the show. The lawyers also separately told the New York Times the gun had been left unattended.
But hours later, the New York Times reports, the attorneys changed their claim, saying the prop weapon had been left alone for a maximum of ten minutes. The rest of the time, the weapons had been locked in a safe, the lawyers claimed. Prior to putting them in the safe Gutierrez-Reed loaded the gun with six “dummy rounds” from a labeled box, the lawyers said. Those rounds are meant to resemble real bullets, but contain no gunpowder.
Another attorney for the armorer, Robert Gorence, told the New York Times that Gutierrez-Reed should not have been expected to guard the prop weapon at all times.
“Was there a duty to safeguard them 24/7?” Gorence said. “The answer is no, because there were no live rounds.”
In the interview with the New York Times, Bowles added that Gutierrez-Reed asked her colleagues to monitor the cart where the weapons were laid, but noticed they were unattended on multiple occassions.
The report does not indicate whether the lawyers also retracted their previous claim that a disgruntled crew member may have intentionally sabotaged the prop weapons.
Gorence said that Gutierrez-Reed’s career should not be derailed because of the tragedy, disputing reports that the young armorer was too inexperienced. Gutierrez-Reed’s father is a weapons expert, and she learned from him at a young age, they said.
“She’s a female, 24 years old in a male dominated profession,” Gorence said. “She wants to work at what she’s been trained to do.”
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[Feature image: Security stands at the entrance to a film set where police say actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun, killing a cinematographer, is seen outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)]