A week after the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set of “Rust,” the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has broken her silence. In a statement issued by her attorneys Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, Gutierrez-Reed denied any knowledge of the live round that killed Hutchins and laid blame for unsafe conditions during the shoot on the indie film’s producers.
The statement, first reported by MSNBC anchor Yasmin Vossoughian, said Gutierrez-Reed was “devastated” by Hutchins’ death and wanted to express her “deepest and most sincere condolences” for the family and friends of Hutchins, described as “an inspirational woman in film who Hannah looked up to.”
The statement then turned to “address some untruths that have been told to the media,” which it said “falsely portrayed” and “slandered” Gutierrez-Reed, who has come under scrutiny for her role in the tragedy as the individual responsible for maintaining safety practices around guns on set — including the one that was handed to Baldwin with live rounds in it. Many have questioned her relative inexperience since she was working on just her second film set and had provoked complaints about her work and calls for her to be fired on her previous film.
“Safety is Hannah’s number on priority on set. Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from,” the statement said, adding that Gutierrez-Reed and the “Rust” prop master “gained control over the guns and she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that.”
Authorities have said they are investigating reports about lax on-set protocols regarding guns — including TheWrap’s exclusive report that crew members used a prop gun for live-ammunition target practice just hours before the accident.
According to Gutierrez-Reed’s account of the events of Oct. 21, the guns were locked up overnight and when production broke for lunch, “and there’s no single way one of them was unaccounted for being shot by crew members.”
The statement also asserted that Gutierrez-Reed has never experienced an accidental discharge during a film shoot, but identified two such incidents, one she said was the fault of the prop master, and another caused by a stunt actor after “being informed his gun was hot with blanks.”
Gutierrez-Reed also attributed any difficulties with her job as armorer to the production itself: “Hannah was hired on two positions for this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer.” Gutierrez-Reed also asserts that she “fought” for gun safety and maintenance training and for “proper time to prepare for gunfire,” requests that were “overruled by production and her department.”
According to Gutierrez-Reed, “the whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings. Rhnot [sic] the fault of Hannah.”
The statement concludes by saying that Gutierrez-Reed and her attorneys will be making an additional statement next week to “address more of these rumors and the whole incident.”
Reps for the film’s producers did nor respond to requests for comment.
Gutierrez-Reed hired Bowles, an Albuquerque-based former Assistant U.S. Attorney, on Thursday.