A search warrant from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office suggests a new theory for the prop gun shooting on Bonanza Creek Ranch that killed Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza — an erroneous mix of live and dummy ammunition.
The warrant, released Tuesday afternoon by the sheriff’s office, stated set armorer Hannah Gutierrez purchased “dummy rounds” from a man named Seth Kenney, owner of PDQ Arm & Prop LLC in Albuquerque, according to the search warrant filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court.
Deputies are seeking all documents relating to Rust, all ammunition that contains the “Starline Brass” logo, photographs of the interior and exterior of the prop company’s building, cameras, film, surveillance footage or photos from the property and anything indicating “knowledge of the crimes” — though it does not specify which crimes.
According to the search warrant, Gutierrez told investigators she arrived on set around 7:30 a.m. Oct. 21 to begin preparing the guns alongside her co-worker and prop master, Sarah Zachry. She said she “dummied the guns up with the dummy rounds” sometime before lunch at 12:30 p.m. During lunch, the gun that would later be fired by actor Alec Baldwin had been locked in a safe, and retrieved afterward by Zachry, the warrant said.
Gutierrez noted after loading the first five rounds, there was one round that “wouldn’t go in” the chamber, the warrant said. After lunch, she “cleaned it out” and put another round in, totaling six in the chamber of the long barrel Colt .45-caliber pistol.
After lunch, she handed the gun to assistant director David Halls, who was “sitting in” on a rehearsal inside the church. Gutierrez noted in the warrant she was “hardly allowed” inside the building due to COVID-19 precautions, but had handed the same gun to Baldwin earlier that morning on set.
On the day of the shooting, Zachry told investigators after Baldwin fired the gun and panic ensued, she went to check the box of ammunition from which the dummy rounds were loaded.
She compared them to the suspected live round she was handed, “which was from the fired gun.”
There were boxes of ammunition that had been provided from “various sources” — including Kenney, a man named Billy Ray and some from Gutierrez’s previous production.
She worked her first job as head armorer on the Nicolas Cage film The Old Way prior to working on Rust.
Upon checking the ammo, Zachry said some of the rounds “rattled” — signifying they were dummy rounds — and others did not, according to the warrant. “Sarah said this led her to believe some of the other rounds in that box were live ammo,” the warrant said.
Kenney offered investigators a brief theory of how live rounds may have ended up on the set.
He told investigators he provides productions ammo from Missouri-based manufacturer Starline Brass. But a few years back, he received “reloaded ammunition” from a friend. That stuck out to him due to the the suspected live round having the company’s logo on it.
He noted Starline Brass sells only components of ammunition, not live ammunition, according to the warrant.
An interview with Gutierrez’s father and renowned armorer Thell Reed revealed he had worked with Kenney on another production in August or September.
Reed told investigators Kenney had trained the actors for live fire with firearms on a shooting range. The warrant did not specify where this production took place.
Kenney requested Reed bring “live ammunition” to that training.
Reed complied, bringing a green “ammo can” with about 200 to 300 rounds in it, the warrant said.
After the production ended, Reed told deputies Kenney took the can, containing .45-caliber ammunition, back to New Mexico and he was never able to retrieve it.
“Thell stated this ammunition may match the ammunition found on the set of Rust,” the warrant said.
Gutierrez also highlighted to investigators that members on the set “weren’t even supposed to be pulling the hammer [of the pistol] back,” the warrant said.
Kenney registered PDQ Arm & Prop in New Mexico in 2019, according to online records from New Mexico Corporation and Business Services. A separate listed registered agent, who receives legal documents for the company such as lawsuits, resigned from the role Nov. 17, records show.
Kenney also registered PDQ Media Arm & Prop in 2017 in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., according to online records from the Arizona Corporation Commission.
The Los Angeles Times reported Kenney was listed as an “armorer mentor” on the set.
Gutierrez’s attorney, Jason Bowles, could not be reached for comment. In an interview with NBC’s Today show in early November, Bowles suggested the set may have been sabotaged by disgruntled employees.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has not made a determination about the cause of the shooting.
Attempts to locate a website, email or phone number for PDQ Arm & Prop LLC were unsuccessful.