‘Rust’ Dolly Grip Operator Testifies About ‘Inappropriate’ Handling of Guns on Set: ‘It Was Out of the Ordinary’

Prosecution witness Ross Addiego says firearms in the care of armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were not “under lock and key”

A dolly grip operator testifying for the prosecution Monday said “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s methods of handling on-set firearms were “out of the ordinary,” from casually carrying firearms and ammunition around in a belt to skipping industry-standard safety checks when scenes were being re-set.

Gutierrez-Reed faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering, with a potential prison sentence of up to three years. The trial began last week in New Mexico before a Santa Fe jury that will determine whether the 24-year-old armorer bears responsibility in the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

On Monday, state prosecutors called to the stand dolly grip operator Ross Addiego, who said he noticed how the guns used on set – in most cases “actual working firearms” and not props – were handled.

“It was out of the ordinary,” Addiego said. “Some armorers have a wheeled cart with locked drawers, with each character’s props in a locked drawer.”

Prosecutors asked if he took note of the casual passing of the guns as “Rust” was in production near Santa Fe in October 2020.

“Yes,” he said. “It seemed inappropriate and out of the ordinary that those firearms weren’t secured. … I don’t know that they’re completely under the armorer’s control if they’re not under lock and key.”

He also said it was industry standard for cast and crew to be invited to inspect firearms before filming began, “whether that’s looking through the barrel, shaking those dummy rounds, or explaining to us that an actor is going to fire X number of blanks.”

The inquiring prosecutor asked if anyone was invited to look down the barrel of the replica Colt .45 that Baldwin was using – which would be to inspect for any foreign objects or debris, now customary after a history of on-set accidents in the past that were blamed on such objects.

“Not to my recollection,” Addiego said.

“Was that concerning to you?”

“It was,” he replied.


“They call them safety checks for a reason.”

Addiego said he was one of many crew members who raised concerns about on-set firearm safety after multiple accidental discharges, but was ignored or rebuffed. Last week, the unit production manager testified that the film’s six-person camera crew walked off the project the night before the deadly accidental shooting over the same concerns.

He said the camera crew defections “threw us into more of a state of chaos than we were already in” on the low-budget Western the morning Baldwin accidentally fired the gun, killing Hutchins.

“At times, we were moving at ludicrous speed,” he said. “We were trying to race the production clock … we seemed to always be rushed and under the gun to get stuff done.”

During opening statements last week, state prosecutor Jason Lewis asserted that Gutierrez-Reed’s “unprofessional and sloppy” conduct was a contributing factor. Lewis said Gutierrez-Reed failed twice to properly check ammunition loaded into the replica Colt .45 wielded that October day by Alec Baldwin, who is expected to also stand trial later this summer on separate manslaughter charges.

Gutierrez-Reed’s defense lawyers laid the blame on Baldwin, the film’s producer and star. It was Baldwin, he argued, who “really controlled the set,” and called the armorer “an easy target – the least powerful person on that set.”

The trial, expected to last at least two weeks, will feature key witnesses, including Joel Souza, the film’s director who was also injured in the shooting, and David Halls, the first assistant director.


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