Rust Weapons Expert Sheds Some Unsurprising Light On The Tragic Shooting

Questions are still arising from the shooting on the set of the period Western film "Rust" in October, in which actor Alec Baldwin fired a shot from an on-set weapon during rehearsal that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded the film's director, Joel Souza. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office has been investigating the cause of the shooting and figuring out how a live round made it into a gun used on the production, and detectives have released an affidavit that answers few questions but spreads the blame around as the lawsuits start coming in against those in charge of production.

According to the affidavit, weapons expert Seth Kenney of PDQ Arm & Prop, who supplied firearms for "Rust," told investigators on October 29 that he had an idea as to how live rounds got mixed in with dummy rounds. Kenney divulged to detectives that he came into possession of "reloaded ammunition" — meaning a new round was fashioned from a previously fired casing, like recycling — from a friend. This reloaded ammunition had the same logo as the dummy rounds and blanks that he typically supplies to films. The affidavit reads:

Seth described how a couple years back, he received 'reloaded ammunition' from a friend. Seth described the ammunition stuck out to him due to the suspected live round to have (sic) a cartridge with the Starline Brass logo on it... He described how the company only sells components of ammunition, and not live ammunition, and therefore it had to be a reloaded round.

The Common Cry, "It Wasn't Me"

The same affidavit includes more information from interviews conducted with the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and her father, veteran film armorer Thell Reed. The prop master for "Rust," Sarah Zachry, also spoke to investigators.

Gutierrez Reed describes how, on October 21, she and Zachry "dummied the guns up with dummy rounds" before lunch, but only five rounds because the sixth round did not fit. Just before breaking for lunch, she cleaned the weapon out and loaded the last dummy round but she "didn't really check it too much" before loading the final round. During lunch, the firearm was locked in a safe, per set protocol. "We had the gun the whole time before that, and nothing happened, and I wasn't in there, and they weren't even supposed to be pulling the hammer back," she told detectives. After lunch, Zachry pulled the weapon from the safe and handed it to Gutierrez Reed, who handed it to assistant director Dave Halls, who then placed the weapon in the hands of the lead actor and called "cold gun" (indicating that there were no live rounds in the gun). The next thing Gutierrez Reed heard from outside the church where filming was occurring was the fatal gunshot, and then voices calling for a medic.

Gutierrez Reed's father, Thell Reed, gave a statement to investigators on November 15 and gave a follow-up interview two days later. Therein, he reveals that he and Kenney worked together on a different project in late summer, where they gave live-fire training (on a dedicated range) for actors. Kenney asked Reed to bring some live rounds in case they ran out. He did, but he never got the rounds back. "Write it off," Kenney allegedly told him. These rounds, Reed suggests, may have made their way to the "Rust" set. 

Earlier this month, Gutierrez Reed's attorneys offered yet another theory: that someone intentionally sabotaged the rounds. Halls' lawyer also said that it's not his job to check for live rounds. 

Out of all the statements and assertions we've heard over the past month, the one thing we haven't heard so far is accountability.