Rust Armorer Has 'No Idea Where The Live Rounds Came From'

As the investigation into the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins continues, the world continues to scrutinize the on-set circumstances, working conditions, and apparent negligence that allowed the fatal incident to occur. As the situation continues to develop, particular attention has been paid to those involved in the weapons management — including armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. We recently learned that Gutierrez-Reed has procured legal representation and now, for the first time since the fatal shooting, she is speaking out about the incident.

Reed's lawyer, Jason Bowles, provided Variety with a statement in which she extends her sympathies to the Hutchins family and defends her conduct on set. She goes on to address "untruths that have been told to the media," which she argues falsely portray and slander her. Within the statement, Gutierrez-Reed outright states that she "has no idea where the live rounds came from." She also explains that she was hired on "Rust" to work two positions at once, and was not afforded adequate prep time ahead of shooting.

An emphasis on the importance of prep time has previously been stressed by veteran prop master Neal W. Zoromski, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times about why he turned down a job on the set of "Rust." Zoromski described the production as rushing to get things done at the cost of safety; he also said that he was denied after asking to bring on two crew members, to serve as prop assistant and armorer, respectively. As Zoromski explained, "You never have a prop assistant double as the armorer ... Those are two really big jobs."

After Zoromski passed on the position, Gutierrez-Reed was announced in her role as "property key assistant/armorer." In her statement, Gutierrez-Reed added that she "fought for training, days to maintain weapons, and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department." You can read the full statement below.

A Statement From Hannah Gutierrez Reed

Below is Hannah Gutierrez Reed's statement in full:

First Hannah would like to extend her deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Halyna. She was an inspirational woman in film who Hannah looked up to. She also offers her thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery to Joel. Hannah is devastated and completely beside herself over the events that have transpired. She would like to address some untruths that have been told to the media, which have falsely portrayed her and slandered her. Safety is Hannah's number one priority on set.

Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from. Hannah and the prop master gained control over the guns and she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that. They were locked up every night and at lunch and there's no way a single one of them was unaccounted for or being shot by crew members. Hannah still, to this day, has never had an accidental discharge. The first one on this set was the prop master and the second was a stunt man after Hannah informed him his gun was hot with blanks.

Hannah was hired on two positions on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer. She fought for training, days to maintain weapons, and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department. The whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings. This was not the fault of Hannah.

Hannah and her legal team will address more of these rumors and the whole incident in an upcoming statement next week.

Weapons Management on the Set of Rust

As of now, no one has been charged in the "Rust" shooting. According to the district attorney (via CNN), this hinges on the source of the live rounds: "We don't know how those live rounds got there, and I think that that will probably end up being kind of the linchpin for whether a decision is made about charges."

Amidst the flood of information and speculation, Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls have faced scrutiny for their involvement in firearms safety. Halls was the crew member who called out "cold gun!" before handing Baldwin the gun that shot Hutchins. As for Gutierrez-Reed, this was her second time working as an armorer. Reports also emerged that Reed was previously "the subject of numerous complaints" on her prior film, "The Old Ways," a Western starring Nicholas Cage. There have also been reports that an unknown number of crew members had taken guns from the set of "Rust" and used them for "plinking" (target practice) with beer cans. 

According to Halls, weapons management protocol went as follows:

"I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there's no live fire, so (Hannah) opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say 'cold gun on set.'" David advised when Hannah showed him the firearm before rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn't, and couldn't recall if she spun the drum.

In the search warrant affidavit released earlier this week, Reed states that she checked the three firearms for "hot rounds" on the day of the incident to assure there was no live ammunition. Afterwards, the crew took a lunch break and the firearms were secured inside a safe of an on-set, which few crew members have access to.

The investigation is still underway and we will continue to publish updates as they become available.