Rust Armorer Asked to Use Live Rounds on Another Movie

Sheriff says action is 'concerning,' amid new file release
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2022 10:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – "This is the most horrifying thing I've ever heard in my life," Alec Baldwin told investigators as he was informed that a live round came from the prop gun he handled on the New Mexico set of Rust. "Someone loaded a live round into the gun I was holding," he said. "It was supposed to be cold or empty." Footage of the interview was released Monday by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office alongside dozens of files, including a clip of Baldwin twice pointing the revolver at the camera ahead of the Oct. 21 shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza, as well as body camera footage from first responders, who found Baldwin waiting outside the set, looking shaken, per the Wall Street Journal.

Baldwin expressed concern for Hutchins as others tried to figure out what went wrong. Later, in his interview with investigators, Baldwin asked whether he was being charged with a crime, receiving a negative. He went on to say the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, had handed the revolver directly to him, per CNN. Souza said the same in an interview from a hospital, adding Gutierrez Reed described the gun as "cold" or "clean," per the Guardian. Gutierrez Reed's lawyer, Jason Bowles, previously said Reed wasn't informed of the scene rehearsal and therefore didn't inspect the gun again, per the Journal. An occupational safety report found it was an assistant director who handed off the gun, per Rolling Stone.

Text messages show Gutierrez Reed asked to use live rounds—"like a pretty big load of actual ammunition"—while working on another movie, The Old Way, last August, only to be told by weapons supplier Seth Kenney that she should never use live ammunition, only blanks, per the Journal. "It was a different movie set, but it was including some people that did work and played a role in the Rust movie set," says Sheriff Adan Mendoza. "So those actions are concerning." Bowles counters that his client only "wanted to be familiar with the historical weapon and how it operated but never intended on shooting during production or on set." He also says she never brought live rounds on set.

A charging decision will be made once the investigation is complete. The sheriff's office still awaits "FBI firearm and ballistic forensics along with DNA and latent fingerprint analysis, Office of the New Mexico Medical Examiner findings report and the analysis of Mr. Alec Baldwin's phone data," Mendoza says in a release, per CNN. In a statement, Baldwin attorney Luke Nikas says the newly released information corroborates his client's account and shows he "acted responsibly and did not have control over any production issues that were identified in the OSHA report." (More on that here.)

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