Nearly three months after the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the western Rust, the film's armourer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, has sued the prop supplier, claiming that live ammunition had been provided to the film crew instead of only dummy rounds.
On October 21, 2021, during a Rust rehearsal at a ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, actor Alec Baldwin was holding a loaded revolver that went off while he was pointing it at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Hutchins died of gunshot wound. Director Joel Souza was also injured.
Baldwin has denied pulling the trigger, saying the gun discharged. Both he and Gutierrez Reed, the armourer who is responsible for firearms, ammunition and training on the film set, have said they had "no idea" why live bullets were present on set when there weren't supposed to be any.
Loaded - but dummy or live?
Gutierrez Reed filed the lawsuit in a New Mexico state district court. The lawsuit blames ammunition supplier Seth Kenney and his PDQ Arm & Prop for providing live rounds in a box that was only supposed to include dummy rounds. Dummy ammunition has no gunpowder and is inert.
"The introduction of live rounds onto the set, which no one anticipated, combined with the rushed and chaotic atmosphere, created a perfect storm for a safety incident," the lawsuit states, adding that Gutierrez Reed loaded the gun with what she believed were six dummy rounds. It also said she had given up control of the gun for 15 minutes before the shooting due to COVID protocols.
Supplier Kenney has said that his company did not provide live ammunition to the set.
A state investigation into the shooting is ongoing, with New Mexico officials saying it is too early to file any criminal charges, but that they have not ruled out charges against anyone involved, including Baldwin. As part of the investigation, officials recovered ammunition from the set that included blanks, dummy rounds and what seemed to be live rounds.
In December 2021, state investigators said a weapon rental supplier may have provided "reloaded ammunition" that matched the cartridge suspected to have contained the live round that killed Hutchins. Reloaded ammunition is made up of recycled parts, including bullets.
Investigators have also said the weapons were handled on set with "some complacency."
cmb/eg (Reuters, AP) DW News