‘Careless’ Rust armourer criticised over safety on previous film, before Alec Baldwin shooting incident

Crew members said the production was one of the worst they had ever worked

Graig Graziosi
Sunday 24 October 2021 19:41
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Prop gun that Alec Baldwin discharged had misfired earlier

The tragic accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie "Rust" is not the first firearms-related incident for the production's armourer.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24, was hired to work as the armourer on the Alec Baldwin Western, Rust. During filming on Thursday, Mr Baldwin fired a gun loaded with live ammunition that killed Ms Hutchins and wounded the film's director.

The Daily Beast reported on Saturday that Ms Gutierrez-Reed was also the armourer on another film set where a firearms mishap shut down production. During work on the upcoming Nicholas Cage film The Old Way, the woman allegedly gave a gun to an 11-year-old actor without properly inspecting it for safety.

A crew member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, spoke with the publication about Ms Gutierrez-Reed's work on The Old Way.

“She was a bit careless with the guns, waving it around every now and again,” the source said. “There were a couple times she was loading the blanks and doing it in a fashion that we thought was unsafe.”

According to another source familiar with the Rust production, there were two previous accidental discharges on the set before the fatal incident on Thursday.

“They had two negligent discharges on the same set, on the same day and still had jobs,” the source told The Daily Beast. “They had struck out twice and were given a third opportunity.”

Ms Gutierrez-Reed was interviewed on the Voices of the West podcast while she was working on The Old Way, during which she said she was “nervous” about her skills, but said she ultimately had a good experience.

“You know, I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready … but, doing it, like, it went really smoothly,” she said in the interview last month.

Although Ms Gutierrez-Reed's name appears in a Santa Fe Sheriff's Office search warrant connected to the investigation into the accident, crew members who worked on the set and who have spoken with the press describe a production that was troubled across numerous departments.

Cost-saving measures and reportedly unsatisfactory set conditions resulted in seven IATSE-union crew members walking off the set in protest hours before the shooting occurred. Non-union workers were brought in to replace them on the day of the incident.

“They did everything they absolutely could to save a nickel at all costs,” the source claimed. “They put everybody in jeopardy in one way or another, whether it was hiring less than qualified people to deal with firearms or it was the constant fight about housing people appropriately. In all my years of doing this, this is one of the worst productions I’ve been on.”

Other crew members speaking to the outlet laid the blame at the feet of the Assistant Director Dave Halls, noting that he is the one ultimately tasked with ensuring guns are properly loaded and safe for use on set.

“He’s supposed to be our last line of defense and he failed us,” one of the sources said. “He’s the last person that’s supposed to look at that firearm.”

Mr Baldwin, who fired the weapon that killed Ms Hutchins, said he was working with the police and taking steps to support the cinematographer's family as they grieve her death.

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