The lead armorer who was in charge of prop weapons on the set of a film where a cinematographer was killed has filed a lawsuit against the supplier of guns and ammunition for the production, accusing both a company and an individual representative of mixing “live” and “dummy” rounds in packaging.
CBS News reports that attorneys representing Hannah Gutierrez Reed filed a lawsuit against PDQ Arm & Prop and company owner Seth Kenney, alleging they “distributed boxes of ammunition purporting to contain dummy rounds, but which contained a mix of dummy and live ammunition to the ‘Rust’ production.”
As previously reported, actor and “Rust” producer Alec Baldwin was handling a prop gun in preparation for a scene in October 2021 when the gun discharged, killing the film’s director of photography Halnya Hutchins and injuring the movie’s director Joel Souza. No criminal charges have yet been filed and no one has taken responsibility for Hutchins’ shocking death, including Baldwin, who said in a previous interview with ABC News that he did not feel guilt about the tragedy. In a more recent social media post, Baldwin said the on-set fatality was the “worst situation” he ever experienced, while vowing to overcome negativity in the new year.
Baldwin has insisted he believed the gun contained only “cold” rounds — as a prop gun is supposed to — and also said he did not pull the trigger, even believing it would not be dangerous to do so.
Gutierrez Reed’s lawyers had previously said she was the victim of sabotage, at the time insinuating that someone on-set had somehow switched out live runs with dummy rounds, for reasons unclear.
“Who put those in there and why is the central question,” Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys said in a statement issued in early November.
“Hannah kept guns locked up, including throughout lunch on the day in question (Oct. 21), and she instructed her department to watch the cart containing the guns when she was pulled away for her other duties or on a lunch break … Hannah did everything in her power to ensure a safe set. She inspected the rounds that she loaded into the firearms that day. She always inspected the rounds,” the attorneys said at the time.
According to the report, the recent lawsuit alleges that Kenney assured film crew leaders that only dummy rounds were included in the ammunition supplied to the production.
“Hannah and the entire ‘Rust’ movie crew relied on the Defendants’ misrepresentation that they provided only dummy ammunition,” the lawsuit claims.
Citing court documents, the report indicates that lawsuit suggests misrepresentation could have been intentional, though it is not clear if the lawsuit is suggesting Kenney intended for the live bullets to be loaded into a prop gun on the film set.
From the CBS News report:
“The suit alleges Kenney had worked on another film shortly before ‘Rust’ began production, during which he and Gutierrez Reed’s father, Thell Reed — himself a veteran armorer — took actors to a gun range to practice with live rounds. Kenney then took the remaining live rounds, which included “reloaded ‘live’ rounds” with the logo of a company called Starline Brass, from that training session back with him ….
‘Starline Brass is a company that produces ammo brass casings, that can be made into dummy, blank or live ammunition by anyone with the knowledge and equipment to do so,’ the suit reads. ‘The company does not itself make live rounds. Anyone with access to the dummy rounds could convert them into live rounds with the proper reloading equipment.'”
As CBS News notes, Kenney has previously denied supplying any live bullets to the film production.
[Feature image: Security stands at the entrance to a film set where police say actor Alec Baldwin d fired a prop gun, killing a cinematographer, is seen outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. The Bonanza Creek Ranch film set has permanent structures for background used in Westerns, including “Rust,” the film Baldwin was working on when the prop gun discharged.(AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)]