Armorer On 'Rust' Set Sues Ammo Dealer Alleging He Is To Blame For Fatal Shooting
Authorities investigating Alec Baldwin’s fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last October previously had described “some complacency” with gun safety on the “Rust” movie set. A new legal filing by the film’s armorer paints a far more chaotic picture, and argues that there’s a cover-up to protect those responsible for Hutchins’ death.
Hannah Guitierrez-Reed, who was 24 when hired as an armorer and prop assistant in charge of weapons for the Western movie, filed a civil complaint in New Mexico against Seth Kenney, who runs a weapons and props rental company called PDQ Arm and Prop.
In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, she says that Kenney was the “primary distributor of ammunition and firearms” to the production. She also alleges he tried to hide his own negligence.
Five days before Baldwin shot and killed Hutchins, Guitierrez-Reed said there were two accidental discharges of real bullets on the “Rust” set, suggesting that Kenney’s allegedly non-functioning rounds were in fact live.
When Guitierrez-Reed told her supervisor, Sarah Zachry, to report the incidents to the production, the lawsuit says that Kenney “essentially told Hannah to back off and that ‘mistakes happen’ and that Hannah needed to remember that Sarah was her boss and not to ‘push it,’” according to a screenshot of a text message purportedly sent by Kenney.
According to the lawsuit, Oct. 21, the day of the fatal shooting, unfolded with a calamitous combination of disorganization, hurrying, lax supervision of both Baldwin and the gun that killed Hutchins, and “the unexplained arrival of a newly full ammo box,” which Guitierrez-Reed said came from Kenney.
What Guitierrez-Reed Alleges
The lawsuit recounts a series of events in detail, leading up to the shooting:
“Hannah exclaimed words to the effect of ‘what is this?’ We have been looking for a full box of dummy rounds for weeks! Where did this come from?,” the suit says. Zachry “did not respond” while another props assistant, Nicole Montoya, “simply giggled in response to Hannah’s questions.”
After the gun was loaded with rounds from the newly discovered box, “Hannah asked Baldwin approximately every 30 minutes when a scene ‘cut’ if Baldwin wanted to give her the gun back and he said, ‘no,’” the lawsuit continues. “Hannah also sent Nicole over to ask Baldwin if he wanted to hand the gun back to her for holding but Baldwin said no that he was ok to continue holding it.”
After a lunch break, when Baldwin’s gun may have been unattended “for perhaps 5 minutes,” production quickly resumed.
Assistant director Dave Halls told Guitierrez-Reed that "he would just be ‘sitting in’ with the gun, meaning the gun wasn’t going to be used at all since this wasn’t a scene or rehearsal. Hannah told Halls to let her know if Baldwin came back so that she could come back inside the Church and re-inspect the weapon and provide it to Baldwin herself as she had done every time before on set.”
She said she never was summoned back. Soon thereafter, Baldwin, while drawing the weapon, shot and killed Hutchins.
The lawsuit claims:
“Had Hannah been called back in, she would have re-inspected the weapon, and every round again, and instructed Baldwin on safe gun practice with the cross draw, as was her standard practice on set and under circumstances where: (1) Baldwin did not respond to Hannah’s request on October 15 to schedule cross draw training and (2) the gun had been out of her possession for 15 minutes.”
Within hours of the shooting (and even before Hutchins had been pronounced dead), Kenney for some reason called an Arizona police officer and told him that “Hannah had messed up,” according to the lawsuit. Kenney has said he was never on the film’s set.
In a bizarre allegation, Guitierrez-Reed said that her father, veteran armorer Thell Reed, was scheduled to fly from Las Vegas to New Mexico to be with his daughter the day after the shooting, and to help trace the provenance of the bullet that killed Hutchins. Thell Reed and Kenney had worked on an earlier movie involving guns shot at firing range, and Thell Reed had given Kenney hundreds of live rounds after their work was done.
“Strangely, when he got to the airport, American Airlines told Thell that ‘Thell Reed’ had called to cancel his flight. Thell said no that’s impossible, I’m Thell Reed. I never called,” the complaint says. “The airline was able to rebook Thell on a later flight, but it pushed him back a day."
"It was apparent to Thell that Defendant Seth Kenney had to be the one who called to cancel his flight in an apparent attempt to thwart his plans to come to Albuquerque or at least delay them."
No criminal charges have been filed over the shooting.
Kenney said on “Good Morning America” in December that “it’s not a possibility [the live rounds] came from PDQ or from myself personally.”