'Rust' Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Permitted to Have Firearm: What to Know About On-Set Tragedy, Aftermath
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Nearly 15 months after the tragic news first broke on the set of Rust, Alec Baldwin and the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, have been criminally charged in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb announced on Jan. 19 in a statement that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. It was later announced that prosecutors would drop the firearms enhancement charge against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. On Feb. 23, Baldwin entered a not guilty plea. The next day, Gutierrez-Reed appeared in court, via Google Meet, but did not enter a plea. A status hearing has been scheduled for March at a date to be determined.
In the interim, Gutierrez-Reed was released on her own recognizance and the judge allowed her to possess a firearm for self-defense in the wake of an alleged stalker. Her lawyers said Gutierrez-Reed received unwanted calls and, due to an alleged stalker, got a restraining order.
The charges come nearly five months after Baldwin reached a settlement in the civil case filed on behalf of the family of Hutchins. As part of the settlement, Rust is set to resume filming -- though not in New Mexico -- with Hutchins' widow, Matthew Hutchins, serving as an executive producer.
In October 2021, a gun that was inadvertently loaded with live rounds was used by Baldwin as a prop in the film. The weapon was discharged, striking and killing Hutchins and hospitalizing director Joel Souza.
The shocking incident rocked Hollywood and sparked an investigation by the Sheriff's Department in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and as the details of the incident came to light, the drama surrounding tensions on set and arguments over culpability raged.
The film's assistant director, the armorer, and even Baldwin himself, who was also a producer on Rust, have all faced criticism and speculation regarding their possible roles in the shooting.
ET has been covering the story since the news first broke on Oct. 21, 2021. Here's everything that has come to light in the days since the fatal shooting.
The Initial Incident
On the evening of Oct. 22, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department confirmed to ET that Baldwin discharged a gun that was being used as a prop on the set of his western drama, Rust, which was filming on the Bonanza Creek Ranch.
Hutchins, 42, was transported by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, according to authorities. She was pronounced dead by medical personnel at the hospital.
Souza, 48, received emergency medical care after being transported by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical center in Santa Fe. He was later released.
Baldwin was reportedly questioned by investigators at the Sheriff's Department, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. The actor was also photographed outside the Sheriff's Department after answering questions, and was reportedly in tears as he spoke with someone on the phone.
Alec Baldwin Speaks Out
One day after the incident, Baldwin took to Twitter to address the on-set tragedy.
"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours," he wrote. "I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family."
Baldwin Was Allegedly Told the Gun Was Safe
According to an affidavit filed by the Santa Fe County’s Sheriff’s Office obtained by The Associated Press and The New York Times, assistant director Dave Halls unintentionally handed the actor the weapon and told him it was safe to use.
Per the affidavit, the assistant director did not know the prop gun was loaded with live rounds. It also notes that the weapon that was fired and Baldwin's wardrobe, which was blood-stained, were taken as evidence. Other prop guns, ammunition and any footage that might exist were also confiscated, AP reports. It's still unclear how many rounds were fired.
The Production Already Faced Troubles
Rust reportedly had a series of problems before Hutchins' tragic death and Souza's injury.
Multiple reports noted that prior to the fatal shooting, many union crew members walked off set in protest of "poor" working conditions. There had also been at least one incident of a prop gun misfiring on the Rust set prior to the fatal accident, Deadline reported.
"The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down," Rust Movie Productions, LLC said in a statement to ET. "We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time."
On Nov. 3, Lane Luper, the former camera assistant for Rust, appeared on Good Morning America, and revealed why he quit the project a day prior to the fatal shooting.
Luper cited "lax COVID policies, the housing situation... and specifically gun safety, a lack of rehearsals, a lack of preparing the crew for what we were doing that day," as reasons for his resignation, stating, "I only personally remember two safety meetings that involved the entire crew."
Producers of the film disputed Luper's claims to ABC News, calling them "patently false," and noting that "he had absolutely nothing to do with, or knowledge of, safety protocols" on the set.
Rust Shuts Down Production
Shortly after the shooting, a memo was sent out by the Rust production team to the cast and crew of the film, noting that they "have made the decision to wrap the set at least until the investigations are complete."
"Although our hearts are broken, and it is hard to see beyond the horizon, this is, at the moment, a pause rather than an end," read the memo. "The spirit that brought us all to this special place remains."
The message further stated that they are cooperating with authorities in their investigation and are also "conducting an internal review of safety protocols."
That statement noted the production team will "remain in close touch with Halyna's family and commend the strength they show in the face of unspeakable tragedy."
"We will be making a donation to the Halyna Hutchins Scholarship Fund established by Halyna’s family," the message concluded. "We will be matching any donations by the crew."
However, when Baldwin was asked if he thought the movie would resume production, he said, "No, I don't."
Assistant Director Dave Halls Had Been Fired From Past Productions
According to a CNN report published on Oct. 25, the assistant director was previously the subject of complaints on the set of two productions in 2019.
The complaints leveled against Halls accused him of unsafe practices, a disregard for safety protocols with regard to firearms used during filming, and inappropriate behavior toward crew members. The complaints stemmed from his work on two episodes of the Hulu anthology horror series Into the Dark.
ET also learned that Halls was fired from the set of the 2019 drama Freedom's Path. The film's production company, Rocket Soul Studios, released a statement to ET regarding his termination from the project.
"First of all, our condolences go out to everyone affected by the recent tragic event in New Mexico," the statement shared. "We can confirm that Dave Halls was fired from the set of Freedom's Path in 2019 after a crew member incurred a minor and temporary injury when a gun was unexpectedly discharged. Halls was removed from set immediately after the prop gun discharged. Production did not resume filming until Dave was off-site. An incident report was taken and filed at that time."
Rust Director Joel Souza Says He's "Gutted" by Hutchins' Death
In a statement shared with NBC News on Oct. 24, Souza, who has since been released from the hospital, said he was "gutted" by the loss of his friend and colleague.
"She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better," he said. "My thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time."
Souza continued, "I am humbled and grateful by the outpouring of affection we have received from our filmmaking community, the people of Santa Fe, and the hundreds of strangers who have reached out...It will surely aid in my recovery."
More Details Around the Fatal Shooting Emerge From People on Set
Serge Svetnoy, the chief electrician on the set of Rust, accused the film's 24-year-old armorer and the producers of "negligence and unprofessionalism." He took to Facebook on Oct. 24, to lay blame on who he claims is responsible for Hutchins' death.
"I was holding her in my arms while she was dying. Her blood was on my hands," Svetnoy wrote in his post, which was also penned in Russian. "I want to tell my opinion on why this has happened. I think I have the right to do it. It's the fault of negligence and unprofessionalism."
Svetnoy explained how he'd worked with Hutchins on previous films, and says he was "standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Halyna during this fatal shot that took her life." The crew member went on to slam the producers of the film for not having "professionals" working on set.
Firearms Expert Says a Real Gun Killed Halyna Hutchins
Firearms expert Steve Wolf provided insight into how an incident like this could occur. He explained to ET that, while the gun was used in the film as a prop, it was still very much a real, working firearm and the term "prop gun" is a misnomer, and has been misused in reports on the incident.
"The gun that Helena was shot with was not a prop gun. A prop gun is a gun that has either been modified to only accept blanks, or has been specifically manufactured to only accept blanks," Wolf explained. "If bullets came out of this gun it was not a prop gun. It was a real gun that was being used as a prop in the movie."
According to a report from The Wrap, crew members on the film allegedly used the gun for target practice, shooting beer cans with real ammunition, to pass time on set. This could potentially explain how a real bullet got confused for a fake and remained in the gun.
"Don't bring guns on the set that you can put bullets into. Don't have live ammo on the set," Wolf said. "And most importantly don't point a gun at someone that doesn't pose a threat to you."
Rust Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Breaks Her Silence
In a statement to ET, Gutierrez-Reed's attorneys, Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, extended her deepest and most sincere condolences to Hutchins' family and friends. "Hannah is devastated and completely beside herself over the events that have transpired," the statement reads in part, before addressing "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," her lawyers stated. "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."
Her legal council further claimed in the statement that the "whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings," and added that "this was not the fault of Hannah."
On Nov. 3, Bowles spoke out on GMA, stating that discovering how live rounds got on the set is "going to be critical" amid the ongoing investigation.
"We know Hannah did not put the live rounds in that box, we know the live rounds shouldn't have been in that box, but they were... There is no purpose for a live round on this set. Zero. Hannah made that clear," he said. "There was no reason for there to be live rounds, she didn't have live rounds, she didn't purchase any of this ammunition. This ammunition was purchased by other people, production. Whoever brought these live rounds on set was wrong, and I think they had a bad intention. That's what we believe."
Alec Baldwin Speaks on Camera for the First Time
On Oct. 30, Baldwin addressed the incident on camera while in Vermont with his family.
"I'm not allowed to make any comments because it's an ongoing investigation. I've been ordered by the Sheriff's Department in Santa Fe. I can't answer any questions about the investigation. I can't," he said. "It's an active investigation in terms of a woman died."
"She was my friend. She was my friend," he continued of Hutchins. "The day I arrived in Santa Fe to start shooting, I took her to dinner with Joel, the director. We were a very, very well-oiled crew shooting a film together, and then this horrible event happened. I've been told multiple times, 'Don't make any comments about the ongoing investigation.' I can't."
Baldwin noted that he's spoken to Hutchins' husband, Matthew, saying, "The guy is overwhelmed with grief."
Assistant Director Dave Halls Speaks Out
On Nov. 2, Halls, the assistant director on Rust, spoke out for the first time in a statement to ET.
"Halyna Hutchins was not just one of the most talented people I’ve worked with, but also a friend," Halls told ET, via his attorney, Lisa Torraco. "I’m shocked and saddened by her death. It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again."
"I have been overwhelmed by the love and support," he continues. "My thoughts are with all who knew and loved Halyna."
Alec Baldwin Defends Working Conditions on Rust
On Nov. 2, Baldwin, the star and a producer on Rust, took to Instagram to share a series of screenshots of a note from Terese Magpale Davis, who was working in the costume department on the set of the Western. In the thread, Davis discounted rumors that the cast and crew of Rust were working under unsafe or unfair conditions.
"I'm so sick of this narrative," Davis began. "I worked on this movie. The story being spun of us being overworked and surrounded by unsafe, chaotic conditions is bulls**t."
Davis defended the producers of Rust, stating, "Concerns were heard and addressed."
She then claimed that the crew had a "union rep" who advised production to "not give into the camera crew," adding that they were "given permission to hire off" of a union overflow list, after sharing that the camera crew started demanding things that the union did not require.
Too Early to Press Charges
Mendoza, the Santa Fe County Sheriff, said that it was "too early" to talk about possible charges being filed. "The investigation will continue and if the Sheriff's Office determines during our investigation that a crime has occurred and probable cause exists, an arrest or arrests will be made and charges will be filed," he told the press.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed's Lawyers Insist She Did Firearms Training With Actors On Set
On Nov. 4, the armorer's lawyer, Bowles, told ET in a statement that "Hannah was incredibly safety conscious and took her job very seriously from the moment she started on October 4th."
"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. Never in a million years did Hannah think that live rounds could have been in the 'dummy' Round box," reads the statement. "Who put those in there and why is the central question. Hannah kept guns locked up, including throughout lunch on the day in question, and she instructed her department to watch the cart containing the guns when she was pulled away for her other duties or on a lunch break. Hannah did everything in her power to ensure a safe set."
Bowles is adamant that the armorer "inspected the rounds that she loaded into the firearms that day," and "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."
The statement concludes, "No one could have anticipated or thought that someone would introduce live rounds into this set."
Nearly a year after the shooting, Baldwin settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Hutchins' family on Oct. 5, 2022. "We are pleased to announce today the settlement of the civil case filed on behalf of the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins," a statement released on Baldwin's Instagram page read.
Baldwin's lawyer, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, added in a statement to ET: "Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation."
In a separate statement, Matthew Hutchins told ET, "We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of Rust including Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC. As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed."
Production to Resume
As part of the wrongful death settlement, it was revealed that production on the film would resume once more, and that Matthew would now be financially involved in the project and an executive producer.
In a separate statement from Matthew, following the settlement, he explained, "The filming of Rust, which I will now executive produce, will resume with all the original principal players on board, in January 2023. I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin). All of us believe Halyna's death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna's final work."
Moving From New Mexico
ET learned in late October that "The production of Rust will not return to New Mexico," according to Melina Spadone, Attorney for Rust Movie Productions LLC, in a statement to ET. "The production is considering other locations, including California, but no decisions have been made."
Moving forward, Rust production will have a safety officer on set. The resumption, like the original production, will continue to be filmed under agreements with industry labor unions.
Baldwin Files His Own Lawsuits
A month after settling his wrongful death lawsuit, Baldwin filed a lawsuit of his own against the armorer and several other crew members involved in the Rust production for negligence. The lawsuit alleged that armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed "failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully;" assistant director David Halls "failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin;" and prop master Sarah Zachry "failed to disclose that Gutierrez-Reed had been acting recklessly off set and was a safety risk to those around her."
Furthermore, Baldwin, who was also one of the film's six producers, "did not know and had no reason to know any of these facts," the suit reads.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed charged
On Jan. 19, 2023, the New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb announced in a statement that the actor and armorer were charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were also "charged in the alternative" with the two counts of manslaughter, meaning that a jury would decide not simply if they were guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty.
As for David Halls, the film's assistant director, he signed a plea deal for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. The terms include a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
No charges were filed specific to the non-fatal shooting of Souza.
"After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the Rust film crew," Carmack-Altwies said. "On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice."
Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the District Attorney to the case, added, "If any one of these three people -- Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls -- had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple. The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the Rust film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously."
Baldwin reacts to the charges
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, reacted to the charges in a statement to ET. "This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set," reads the statement. "He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win."
Gutierrez-Reed reacts to the charges
Gutierrez-Reed's attorney, Jason Bowles, also released a statement to ET, which reads, "Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter. These charges are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts. We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury."
The Hutchins family reacts to the charges
The Hutchins family lawyer released a statement to ET after the announcement of the charges.
"We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life," Brian J. Panish, founding partner of Panish-Shea-Boyle -Ravipudi LLP, said. "Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted. It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law."
Baldwin sued by Hutchins' family
Represented by attorneys Gloria Allred and John Carpenter, Hutchins' family in Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Baldwin and other Rust producers over Hutchins' death.
According to legal documents, obtained by ET, the family is alleging battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and loss of consortium for the three plaintiffs, all of whom, Allred said, seek to recover compensation for damages to certain relationships that are mutually dependent.
The lawsuit names Baldwin; Rust Movie Productions, LLC.; Baldwin's production company, El Dorado Productions, LLC; the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed; and a slew of others.
In a statement to ET, the attorney for Hutchins' husband said he was not aware that Hutchins' family was going to file this lawsuit.
Allred answered how this lawsuit differs from the one Baldwin settled with Hutchins' estate.
"The settlement was for Matthew and his child," Allred explained. "And we are now representing others in the family -- mom, dad, and sister -- and there has been no settlement for them. Matter of fact, there has been no outreach to them by Mr. Baldwin to even say he was sorry. We want accountability and justice for them. It’s as simple as that."
Baldwin gets charge dropped, faces reduced prison sentence
Prosecutors announced on Feb. 20 that it would drop the firearms enhancement charge against Baldwin.
Now, Baldwin faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter for the shooting, which has a lesser prison sentence of 18 months, rather than five years in prison. Gutierrez-Reed had the firearms enhancement charge dropped as well and faces the same sentence.
"In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the 'Rust' film set. The prosecution's priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys,” New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney spokesperson Heather Brewer said in a statement.
Rust production moving to Montana
The film's Western production set will relocate to the Yellowstone Film Ranch in Paradise Valley, Montana. This is not the same ranch where the hit Paramount Network show Yellowstone is filmed.
Yellowstone Film Ranch co-founders Richard Gray, Carter Boehm and Colin Davis issued the following joint statement on Feb. 22, saying, "The dedication and passion of the entire Rust production team to honor Halyna’s vision has deeply moved us. We’ve learned so much about Halyna as a friend and colleague, the depth of her artistry, and the lasting impact she had on so many. We are honored to play a role in the realization of her vision and to carry forward her inspiring legacy through championing this film."
Rust director Joel Souza also made a statement: "I am deeply grateful to Richie, Carter, and Colin for the invitation to the Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana. Their unwavering friendship, support, and now partnership in completing Rust and honoring Halyna means the world to me and our entire production team. The beauty of Montana surpasses words, and the warm hospitality and kindness extended by everyone I've met has been both humbling and inspiring. It is a privilege to work with such great partners as we see this through on Halyna’s behalf."
Baldwin enters not guilty plea
The embattled actor formally entered a not guilty plea to the involuntary manslaughter charge on Feb. 23.
According to court docs, obtained by ET, the 64-year-old actor waived his right to appear on Feb. 24 before First Judicial District court Judge Mary Sommer in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, and have his rights explained to him by the judge. Baldwin instead opted to enter his plea through his attorney, Luke Nikas.
Sommer also approved an order setting several conditions for Baldwin's release, including staying out of legal trouble, not possess firearms or dangerous weapons, not consume alcohol, and maintain contact with his attorney. He's also been allowed to have "contact with potential witnesses only in the capacity laid out herein: In connection w/ completing Rust and other business matters; provided, however, that Defendant is not permitted to discuss the accident at issue, or the substance of his or the witnesses' potential testimony in the case."
Rust assistant director David Halls also did not appear in New Mexico court but pleaded not guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Gutierrez-Reed does not enter a plea
She did not enter a plea at a hearing on Feb. 24, and a status hearing has been set for March at a date to be determined. In the interim, Gutierrez-Reed was released under her own recognizance.
What's more, the judge allowed her to maintain a firearm in her home for self-defense in wake of an alleged stalker that resulted in her getting a restraining order. Her lawyer, Jason Bowles, said when the state of New Mexico released unredacted information about the Rust shooting, it resulted in Gutierrez-Reed getting unwanted phone calls.
While prosecutors said they didn't think it was appropriate for Gutierrez-Reed to have a firearm, the judge sided with Gutierrez-Reed and said she could have a firearm in her home only. She's also been ordered not to have any contact with witnesses set to testify in the case.
Rust settles with New Mexico's Workplace Health and Safety Bureau
It was announced on Feb. 24 that Rust Movie Productions, LLC and the New Mexico's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) struck a settlement following alleged safety failures.
As part of the settlement, which is still pending approval, the April 2022 citation will be downgraded from "willful-serious" to "serious."
And, instead of paying an initial $136,793 fine, the production company will now only have to pay a civil penalty of $100,000.
In a statement, the production company's attorney, Melina Spadone, said, "We are pleased to have entered into an agreement with OHSB, subject to approval, which downgrades the citation and reduces penalties."
She added, "Our top priority has always been resuming production and completing this film so we can honor the life and work of Halyna Hutchins. Settling this case rather than litigating is how we can best move forward to achieve that goal."
For more on this story, watch the video below.
Alec Baldwin's Attorney Reacts to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges
Alec Baldwin Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in 'Rust' Shooting
Alec Baldwin Sues 'Rust' Armorer, Several Other Crew Members
Alec Baldwin Honors Halyna Hutchins 1 Year After Fatal 'Rust' Shooting
Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' Production Will Not Resume Filming in New Mexico
Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' Will Resume Filming After Halyna Hutchins' Death
Alec Baldwin Reaches Settlement in 'Rust' Shooting