Gutierrez-reed.jpg

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed worked as the armorer on the Rust film set.

The first lawsuit in New Mexico tied to the fatal shooting on the set of the Rust film production came Wednesday, a complaint filed on behalf of armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed accusing Seth Kenney and his business, PDQ Arm & Prop in Albuquerque, of supplying her with mislabeled dummy ammunition that included live rounds.

The lawsuit, filed in New Mexico’s 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County by Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys, Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion, describes a “rushed and chaotic” atmosphere on the film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe that created a “perfect storm” for a safety breach.

Authorities say a prop revolver wielded by Hollywood star and Rust producer Alec Baldwin discharged during an Oct. 21 rehearsal, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Gutierrez Reed, hired to handle firearms on the set, has come under intense scrutiny amid an ongoing investigation into the death. According to her complaint, she was paid $7,500 for her dual roles as armorer and key props assistant.

A key question for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, which has led the investigation into the shooting, is how live rounds ended up on the set — and in Baldwin’s gun.

The agency executed a search warrant in November on Kenney’s business, which investigators said had supplied Gutierrez Reed with dummy ammunition for the production. An affidavit for the warrant indicated investigators wondered if the armorer had instead received a deadly mix of live and dummy rounds from the company.

Gutierrez Reed’s lawsuit alleges Kenney and his company provided misrepresented ammunition and set the stage for tragedy. The complaint accuses Kenney of violating the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, creating dangerous conditions, using false and deceptive product labels and breach of contract.

Kenney owes Gutierrez Reed more than $10,000 from an “oral contract” the pair had for her work on The Old Way, a Nicolas Cage film produced in 2021, the complaint says.

It seeks compensatory and punitive damages, court costs and attorneys’ fees, and other relief.

The suit says Kenney had access to live rounds with the “Starline Brass” logo — matching the markings on the suspected live rounds found on the Rust set. He had obtained an ammo can with nearly 300 live rounds with that logo from longtime stuntman and armorer Thell Reed, Gutierrez Reed’s father, whom he’d asked to train actors at a shooting range for another film in August. When training was over, Kenney took the ammo can back to his home in Albuquerque, the suit says.

“There is no explanation as to where the remainder of the live rounds went or what Seth did with them,” the suit says.

Neither Kenney nor his attorney could be reached for comment late Wednesday.

A new box of dummy rounds from Kenney appeared on the Rust set the morning of Oct. 21, according to Gutierrez Reed’s complaint. She prepared Baldwin’s gun with five dummy rounds; the sixth wouldn’t fit into the chamber, the suit says, so she assumed the chamber would need to be cleaned later in the day.



Before lunch, the guns were locked in a safe Gutierrez Reed had purchased for the production, which was placed inside a prop truck. After lunch, Gutierrez Reed cleaned the gun, shook the sixth round and placed it in the chamber, according to the suit.

The rehearsal that day in a church at the movie ranch was “impromptu,” the suit says, and Gutierrez Reed was not present in the building.

Assistant director David Halls, who also has faced scrutiny for how he handled Baldwin’s weapon on the set, told Gutierrez Reed the revolver would be in the church during the rehearsal, but he would be “sitting in” with it, indicating it wasn’t going to be used, according to the complaint.

Fifteen minutes later, Gutierrez Reed heard a gunshot, and she learned Hutchins and Souza had been struck.

When reached for comment Wednesday, Halls’ attorney, Lisa Torraco, said she didn’t have anything to add to the dialogue in response to the lawsuit. The suit says Gutierrez Reed would never have let Baldwin point the weapon at Hutchins.

The suit details two other accidental discharges on the set. Both occurred Oct. 16, according to the complaint; the first involved prop master Sarah Zachry, who fired a blank round at her foot, and the second involved Baldwin’s stunt double, who discharged a round inside a cabin.

Tension over how to respond to the safety concerns began to grow between Kenney and Reed, the suit says.

Following one heated exchange of text messages, Kenney called a police officer in Arizona who was a mutual friend of Gutierrez Reed’s father and said he “never wanted to work with Hannah again.”

Before Hutchins was pronounced dead, Kenney called the same officer again, the suit says; he claimed Gutierrez Reed had “messed up.”

While Kenney and his business are the only defendants in the suit, it also raises questions about the actions of others on set the day of the shooting, including Zachry, who had inspected the ammunition box following the shooting and determined there were other live rounds in it.

Zachry’s attorney, William Waggoner, said his client did nothing wrong.

“She did her job. She did it very professionally, and we disagree with [the] description about how chaotic it was on the set,” he said in an interview Wednesday night.

Gutierrez Reed’s complaint follows separate lawsuits Rust crew members have filed in Los Angeles over the shooting; she is named as one of several defendants in the complaints.

(15) comments

Khal Spencer

As far as dummy or blank ammo? I don't know what was on the set. Generally, blanks have a crimped front and/or a wad in front holding the powder inside until the blank is fired. Perhaps an inexperienced person could confuse one for a "wadcutter" but an armorer should know the difference. Some dummy rounds, such as snap-caps, are painted a goofy color such as bright blue or red to make clear they are fake. Plus, there should be an obvious weight difference. Would help if the New Mexican would actually show pictures of what was on the set. We are all guessing.

According to this article, written by a union armorer, "...Dummy rounds in the industry look like live rounds. They have the lead tip. However, they contain no gun powder and the primer in the back is inert. Generally speaking, live rounds are never on set except for rare occasions for educational shows that are actually filming on a gun range. "

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2021/10/26/alec-baldwin-prop-gun-shooting-movie-sets-avoid-accidents/6142800001/

One could see how, if this last case is true, something could go dreadfully wrong if people are not careful and live rounds are mixed up with dummy rounds that look like live rounds for the purpose of closeup shots looking at the business end of a revolver.

larry hulsey

A blank bullit has a crimped case with no lead bullit . A live bullit has a lead bullit apx. 200 grms. in weight. Not only is there a visual difference but also a weight difference. If the scene required a frontal view the gun it would show that it had a bullit loaded and that may be where a dunny round [ no primer or powder present] and can't be discharged. I have opened my self to critsisem so feel free that you can correct my understanding.

Lyndell Vallner

This is called "Shifting the Blame Game." Everyone who handled the "ammo" and gun had a responsibility to check both out. There is enough blame to go around, touching each of them in the process. I see no reason to ever have the need for live ammo on any modern movie set. Sound effects and other special effects these days are more than superb. Live ammo being used for "plinking"out there...would suggest someone doing that had exceptional access to live bullets. The Armorer on set should have noticed that and prohibited the live ammo...period. I would not eliminate one of those doing the live ammo plinking from the list of suspects. On a desert-set like the one here...only a NRA certified gun handler should have a gun with live ammo...to shoots snakes primarily.

Chris Mechels

Part of the ongoing confusion, which may result in a victim and no guilty party. This is all made possible by the incredible incompetence of the SF Sheriff, who lost control on the first day of the shooting. We need to vote him OUT!!!

Cheryl Maes

After watching 2020s report regarding the incident, it looks to me like disgruntled employees may have had a hand in the loaded guns.

Khal Spencer

From the whole history of this incident, it sounds like some of the "dummy rounds" were the people walking around the set. As soon as the dummy ammo was received it should have been checked and if live rounds found, call a stop work until any and all live ammo had been secured and removed from the set.

What a mess.

Kirk Allison

No question about it, Mr. Spencer, and with two prior negligent discharges preceding the fatal incident, there was ample cause to stop work and check. Considering the well known temper of the producer, I can see why some underling wouldn't want to pull that lever and risk the producer's wrath and losing their job.

Khal Spencer

This sounds like B.S. to me, but I would have to read the lawsuit to say so definitively.

Mike Johnson

I guess my question would be, how can a person who claims to be an armorer not know the difference between a live round and a blank? Seems to me the person who loaded that gun is the culprit, not the people who supplied the rounds.

Kirk Allison

Smoke and mirrors. This has been a blame shifting incident from the start.

And SF New Mexican, please stop using the phrase "accidental discharge." These are *negligent* discharges.

Emily Hartigan

Do I recall correctly that the bullet was one her father made?

They tried early on to explain that by blaming the ammunition person. Might be. But it sure seems fishy.

John Balog

Bull, She had a responsibility to check the load before giving a "loaded" weapon to Alec Baldwin and he should have checked it too.

William Gruber

Absolutely correct. The first rule of safe gun handling is assume any gun is loaded and NEVER point a gun at anyone or anything you don’t intend to shoot.

Sounds like everyone involved is trying to shift the blame.

EVERYONE who handled the revolver is responsible for assuring the gun was unloaded.

Emily Koyama

Especially true, since this was supposedly a scene that did not call for the gun to be "fired" anyway, so why was it loaded with ANYTHING; dummy, live, whatever. The armorer's responsibility is for ensuring the safety and accountability of all guns an ammunition on the set, regardless of it's origin.

Khal Spencer

[thumbup]

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.