‘Rust’ Armorer Told Detectives She Checked Dummy Rounds ‘Most of the Time’

Rexa Vella

‘Rust’ Armorer Told Detectives She Checked Dummy Rounds ‘Most of the Time’

SANTA FE, N.M. — “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed told detectives that she brought dummy rounds to set that were left over from a previous film, and that had been loose in a bag in her car.

Gutierrez Reed is on trial for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Halyna Hutchins, who was killed by a live round fired from Alec Baldwin‘s gun. Prosecutors have alleged that Gutierrez Reed was responsible for bringing a box of dummies that included multiple live rounds.

On Tuesday, jurors were shown a police interview from November 2021, in which Gutierrez Reed said that she had used dummies on “Rust” that were left over from “The Old Way,” a Nicolas Cage film she had worked on a few weeks earlier.

“I went back through a bag that I had,” Gutierrez Reed said in the interview. “This bag had a bunch of loose dummies in it. I went through and I checked all of them, and I put them into two boxes… They were in my car for like two weeks.”

Gutierrez Reed loaded Baldwin’s gun — which was supposed to contain only dummy rounds — and did not notice that she loaded a live round.

Later in the interview, Gutierrez Reed described her process for checking to make sure that rounds are dummies. Most dummies on the set rattled when shaken — a safety feature indicating that they could not be fired.

“I am shaking all of them most of the time,” Gutierrez Reed said.

Prosecutor Kari Morrissey underscored that comment — “most of the time” — for the jury.

To prove involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors will have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Gutierrez Reed acted with “willful disregard for the safety of others.” If convicted, she faces up to 18 months in prison.

The defense has maintained that Gutierrez Reed was not responsible for bringing the live bullets on set, and has instead pointed the finger at Seth Kenney, who supplied guns and ammo to the production. Kenney is expected to testify next week.

The defense is also expected to put on its case next week. In his opening statement, defense attorney Jason Bowles argued that Gutierrez Reed has been made a “scapegoat” for numerous errors made by the production, Baldwin, and others.

Prosecutors have argued that Gutierrez Reed was unprofessional, often leaving guns and ammunition unsecured and ignoring industry safety protocols.

The jury was shown an earlier police interview on Tuesday, conducted the day of the shooting, at which Gutierrez Reed did not have her lawyer present. She initially indicated that she “should probably” have a lawyer, but later agreed to answer some basic questions.

In that interview, she acknowledged that one of the dummy boxes “might have some wonky ones in it.”

The detectives showed Gutierrez Reed a photo of the lead bullet that had been removed from the shoulder of Joel Souza, the film’s director. She did not identify it as a bullet, saying at first that it appeared to be a blank.

“They’re thinking it could be a live round,” a detective told her.

“Holy fuck,” she responded.

The jury also saw bodycam video from the scene, taken shortly after the shooting, in which Gutierrez Reed appeared stunned and despondent.

The armorer, who was 24 at the time, was seen walking with a detective to the bathroom trailer on the Western set.

“Welcome to the worst day of my life,” she said. Later, Gutierrez Reed asked to be put somewhere away from the other crew, saying she didn’t want to be seen by her co-workers.

“I already feel super bad,” she said. “I just want to get the fuck out of here and never show my face in this industry again.”

On Tuesday morning, the jurors saw graphic photos from Hutchins’ autopsy. The images showed a bullet wound in Hutchins’ right armpit, and a large exit wound in her back. When the images displayed on a computer screen at the defense table, Gutierrez Reed became visibly distressed. She looked away, held the bridge of her nose, and then leaned back to look toward the ceiling.

Heather Jarrell, the state’s medical investigator, testified that the bullet punctured Hutchins’ right lung — a lethal wound — and went through her spinal cord.

The jury also heard from Lucien Haag, a veteran firearms expert who analyzed Baldwin’s Colt .45 and the ammunition for the prosecutors.

Haag testified that the gun was working properly before it was sent to the FBI for analysis. In the course of the FBI testing, an examiner struck the gun with a mallet to see if it would accidentally fire when enough force was applied. The testing broke three components of the gun.

On cross-examination, Haag also testified that the live rounds on set appeared to be “hand loaded” — that is, made by an individual by hand, rather than by a commercial manufacturer.

Baldwin is set to face a trial in July on involuntary manslaughter charges. He has maintained that he did not pull the trigger, and his defense team has raised the question of whether the gun was working properly at the time of the shooting. Baldwin’s defense has also faulted the FBI for breaking the gun.

Baldwin’s local attorney, Heather LeBlanc, was in the audience to witness Tuesday’s testimony, getting a preview of the gun evidence that will likely play a more significant role at his trial.

Gutierrez Reed’s lawyers do not dispute that the gun was functioning properly. Her defense has blamed Baldwin for negligently pulling the trigger while pointing it at Hutchins.

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