ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The legal team for “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed is pushing back against concerns about her level of experience while questioning how – and why – live ammunition made it onto an Alec Baldwin movie set.
“Never in a million years did Hannah think that live rounds could have been in the ‘dummy’ round box,” one of her attorneys, Jason Bowles, said in a statement shared with Fox News on Thursday. “Who put those in there and why is the central question.”
The remarks come as sources close to the set are raising concerns about Gutierrez Reed’s experience and maturity, and as details in Santa Fe search warrants suggest a break with established firearms safety protocols.
Aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, days after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on the set of the film “Rust.” (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong | Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie)
All guns on set, whether they are real, replicas, loaded or empty, are to be treated as though they are loaded with live ammunition, according to safety recommendations from the Contract Services Administration Trust Fund and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
The union also notes that “blanks can kill” and weapons should never be pointed at another person.
“Hannah was incredibly safety conscious and took her job very seriously from the moment she started on Oct. 4,” Bowles said. “She did firearms training for the actors as well as Mr. Baldwin, she fought for more training days and she regularly emphasized to never point a firearm at a person.”
Bowles also said Gutierrez Reed kept the guns locked up or under the eye of subordinates.
“Hannah did everything in her power to ensure a safe set,” he said.
During a rehearsal on Oct. 21, assistant director David Halls allegedly handed Baldwin a loaded .45 revolver, telling him that it was “cold,” or safe.
Prior to that, Gutierrez Reed spun the cylinder to show Halls what was in the gun, her lawyer said.
Alec Baldwin was handed the firearm by assistant director Dave Halls, who believed there was no ammunition loaded, per law enforcement. (IMDB | Getty)
“She inspected the rounds that she loaded into the firearms that day,” Bowles said. “She always inspected the rounds. She did again right before handing the firearm to Mr. Halls, by spinning the cylinder and showing him all of the rounds and then handing him the firearm.”
During the rehearsal, which involved cross-drawing a revolver and aiming it at the camera, a shot rang out – booming on set and tearing through cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ torso before slamming into director Joel Souza’s shoulder. They were rushed to hospitals, where she died.
“No one could have anticipated or thought that someone would introduce live rounds into this set,” Bowles said.
During an interview with NBC’s “Today” earlier this week, he and Robert Gorence, another attorney for Gutierrez Reed, said they were looking into the possibility that someone had sabotaged the set by planting real bullets in containers of dummy ammunition, which looks realistic but doesn’t function. The attorneys stopped short of making any kind of legitimate allegation against anyone, calling the idea of intentional sabotage just one of many working theories they are investigating.
Last week, Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza said authorities had uncovered a mix of dummy rounds, blanks and real bullets from the set.