‘Rust’ shooting may have been sabotage, say armorer’s lawyers

Props expert Guillaume Delouche at Independent Studio Services holds a prop gun while talking about them in Sunland-Tujunga, Los Angeles, California on October 22, 2021. – The fatal shooting of a crew member by actor Alec Baldwin during the making of a movie in the western United States has raised questions over the use of guns on film sets. Hollywood armorer Guillaume Delouche — who has been supplying weapons to filmmakers for three decades, with 75 titles to his name — says there are usually multiple safeguards against tragedy. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP)


LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Lawyers representing the woman who loaded Alec Baldwin’s gun said an act of “sabotage” by disgruntled crew members may have caused the tragic shooting on the set of “Rust.”

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was the armorer in charge of weapons on the Western movie set in New Mexico, where Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer last month after being told his firearm was safe.

Her lawyers told the “Today” program, on the US network NBC, that Gutierrez-Reed had loaded the gun with ammunition from a box of dummy, or inert, rounds and had “no idea” where the live round that killed Halyna Hutchins came from.

“We’re assuming somebody put the live round in that box — which if you think about that, the person who put the live round in the box of dummy rounds had to have the purpose of sabotaging this set,” said Jason Bowles.

“There’s no other reason you would do that. That you would mix that live round in with the dummy rounds.”


SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – OCTOBER 22: A general view shows a locked gate at the entrance to the Bonanza Creek Ranch on October 22, 2021 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on set while filming the movie “Rust” at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 21, 2021. The film’s star and producer Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm that hit Hutchins and Souza. Sam Wasson/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Sam Wasson / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)


Prosecutors have refused to rule out criminal charges over Hutchins’ death.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza has said it appeared “there was some complacency on this set.”

There have been multiple reports that “Rust” camera crew resigned the day before the shooting, in part due to significant safety concerns surrounding firearms and explosives on set.

Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 12, 2019 actor Alec Baldwin attends the ‘Exploring the Arts’ 20th anniversary Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. – US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement officers said October 21, 2021.
The incident happened on the set of “Rust” in the southwestern US state, where Baldwin is playing the lead in a 19th-century western. No charges have been filed over the incident, which is being investigated. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

Pressed on why somebody would deliberately sabotage the production by disguising a lethal round as safe ammunition, Bowles pointed to “unhappy” crew members who had walked out hours before the shooting.

“We have people who had left the set, who had walked out because they were disgruntled,” said Bowles, pointing to on-set complaints over long working hours and hotel accommodation for crew.

“We have a timeframe between 11:00 and 1:00 approximately that day in which the firearms at times were unattended. So there was opportunity to tamper with a scene.”

Asked why Gutierrez-Reed had left the firearms unattended, Bowles said she had been asked by producers to shoulder additional duties as a “key props assistant,” and was attending to those at the time of the shooting.

© Agence France-Presse