The lawyers for the armorer on the film “Rust” — who has been under scrutiny since Alec Baldwin fatally shot the movie’s cinematographer with a gun that was not supposed to contain live ammunition — said in interviews on Wednesday that the gun had been left unattended for hours, but later corrected themselves to say it had only been several minutes.
The gun left on a prop cart had been loaded with six dummy rounds by the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who took the prop ammunition from a box labeled “dummies,” said one of her lawyers, Jason Bowles. Dummy rounds contain no gunpowder and are used to resemble bullets on camera.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers, Mr. Bowles and Robert Gorence, said in a television appearance and in an interview with The New York Times that the guns had been left unattended for about two hours on that day, including during the crew’s lunch break. Mr. Bowles later said they had been mistaken, and after consulting Ms. Gutierrez-Reed again, he said they had been locked up in a safe during lunch and had only been left unattended for a total of five to 10 minutes. Mr. Bowles said Ms. Gutierrez-Reed asked her colleagues to watch the cart when she wasn’t there but remembered seeing it left unattended at various points that day.
At about 11 a.m. on Oct. 21, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, 24, loaded three firearms that were going to be used later that afternoon during a filming session, including the .45 Long Colt, Mr. Gorence, said.
“Was there a duty to safeguard them 24/7?” Mr. Gorence said. “The answer is no, because there were no live rounds.”
Even though the gun was declared “cold,” meaning it was not supposed to contain any live ammunition, a live round was in the revolver that killed the movie’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and wounded the director, Joel Souza. The key question in the investigation is how it got there.
According to an affidavit released last week by the Santa Fe County sheriff’s office, the firearms were secured inside a safe on a “prop truck” at lunchtime and Ms. Gutierrez-Reed told a detective that the head of the film’s prop department, Sarah Zachry, opened the safe after lunch and handed the guns to her.
What Happened on the Set of “Rust”
Mr. Bowles said that after lunch, the film’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, asked for the firearm; Ms. Gutierrez-Reed then spun the gun’s cylinder and showed him all six rounds inside — which she believed to all be dummies. Mr. Halls then entered the set, a wooden church, while Ms. Gutierrez-Reed remained outside because there were not supposed to be any gun discharges happening inside that she needed to be present for, the lawyer said.
“Hannah thinks the gun is secured,” Mr. Bowles said. “So she goes and does her prop duties.”
In addition to working as the film’s armorer, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed was a props assistant, which made it difficult for her to focus fully on her job as armorer, her lawyers have said. She was a nonunion worker and was on the set for about 17 days before the shooting occurred.
Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s first job as head armorer was on a western called “The Old Way” starring Nicolas Cage, which was filmed this year, fueling concerns from colleagues on both that film and “Rust” who worried she was too inexperienced for the job.
Her lawyers disputed those claims, saying Ms. Gutierrez-Reed trained with her father — the weapons expert Thell Reed — from a young age, and that she would like to continue being an armorer.
“She’s a female, 24 years old in a male dominated profession,” Mr. Gorence said. “She wants to work at what she’s been trained to do.”