Last Thursday, a prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin killed Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and while law enforcement officials are still looking into the matter, her tragic death is thought to have been an accident brought about by oversights from armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who prepared the weapon, and assistant director (AD) Dave Halls, who declared the weapon safe and handed it to Baldwin. However, as an investigation by Consequence shows, the histories of both Gutierrez-Reed and Halls are full of other accidents: gun misfires, close calls, and complaints alleging a disregard for safety protocols.
Gutierrez-Reed is 24 years old and the daughter of legendary Hollywood weapons master Thell Reed (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Miami Vice, Django Unchained, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.) Rust was only her second professional credit as an armorer, with the first coming on the Nicolas Cage Western The Old Way, due out in 2022. According to Stu Brumbaugh, who served as key grip on The Old Way, her inexperience put the cast and crew in several unnecessarily dangerous situations.
To be clear, Brumbaugh doesn’t fault Gutierrez-Reed for what happened on The Old Way. “I would put the blame 100% on the producers,” who he says were too stingy to hire someone more experienced. “What it boils down to is producers being cheap and not giving departments the manpower to do things safely and efficiently,” he added, explaining that “her age and inexperience were a factor in a lot of what’s going on right now.”
Gutierrez-Reed seemed not only overworked, but also unaware of proper safety protocols. “She made some rookie mistakes on more than one occasion on our set.”
Guns loaded with blanks still fire a wad at potentially fatal velocity, but she rarely informed the cast and crew that they were around dangerous weapons. “The first incident was that she walked out on set with live rounds,” which in this context means blanks, not bullets. “There was no announcement made by the AD or herself about walking on set with blanks loaded in firearms.”