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‘Rust’ Armorer Sues Ammunition Supplier, Accusing Them Of Putting Live Rounds In Box Of Dummy Ammo

Santa Fe, NM – The armorer tasked with overseeing firearms safety on the set of “Rust” is suing an ammunition supplier for allegedly providing the production with a box of ammunition that included live rounds instead of only dummy rounds.

Actor Alec Baldwin previously said it wasn’t his job to make sure the firearm he used on the set of “Rust” was safe, and that he only pointed the gun at his cinematographer because she told him to.

Halyna Hutchins, 42, was fatally shot on the set of “Rust” while rehearsing a scene with Baldwin on Oct. 21, 2021.

The film’s director, Joel Souza, was wounded, but survived.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer hired to oversee ammunition, firearms, and related training for the movie, filed a lawsuit in New Mexico District Court Wednesday, accusing PDQ Arm and Prop and its owner, Seth Kenney, of introducing “dangerous” items to the “Rust” movie set, The New York Times reported.

Gutierrez-Reed blamed Kenney and his company for allegedly supplying the production with a box of ammunition labeled “dummy” that actually contained at least one live round.

The live bullet ended up being loaded into the antique Colt .45 revolver Baldwin was holding when the shooting occurred, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed investigators also located “a suspected seven live rounds distributed inside the ammo box, on the ammo cart and in the bandoliers,” all of which were located on the movie set, the Associated Press reported.

Baldwin has insisted he didn’t pull the trigger and claimed the gun discharged on its own, killing Hutchins.

“Hannah and the entire ‘Rust’ movie crew relied on the defendants’ misrepresentation that they provided only dummy ammunition,” the lawsuit read, according to The New York Times.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office (SFCSO) executed a search warrant at the PDQ Arm and Prop property in Albuquerque in late November, 2021, ABC News reported at the time.

According to the warrant affidavit, Kenney told investigators he’d been hired by the “Rust” team to supply them with firearms, as well as with Starline Brass blanks and dummy rounds.

In the months of August and September, 2021, Kenney was working on another movie set with Hollywood armorer Thell Reed, who is Gutierrez-Reed’s father, ABC News reported.

While they were working on the separate production, Kenney asked Reed to bring out live ammunition to an actor training session at the firearms range, just “in case they ran out of what was supplied,” the affidavit read.

Reed said he brought a can of 200 to 300 rounds of live, handloaded ammunition out the range, according to investigators.

Reed told police that once the production wrapped up, Kenney allegedly took the container of remaining live ammunition back to New Mexico with him, telling Reed to “write it off,” ABC News reported.

According to the warrant affidavit, Reed told investigators that was the reason why ammunition in his possession could match the rounds recovered from the set of “Rust.”

Kenney’s attorney, Adam Engelskirchen, adamantly denied allegations Kenney brought any live ammunition to the “Rust” production, ABC News reported at the time.

Engelskirchen said the affidavit for the search warrant “includes material misstatements of fact, particularly with regard to statements ascribed to Mr. Kenney.”

“Reports in other media outlets that Mr. Kenney was part of the crew of Rust or was employed by the production to provide any sort of supervisory services are patently false,” the attorney declared.

“Mr. Kenney is fully-cooperating with the authorities, as he has been since the tragic incident took place,” Engelskirchen said in a statement to ABC News. “Neither Mr. Kenney nor PDQ Arm & Prop, LLC provided live ammunition to the Rust production.”

It is unknown if anything was seized from the prop company when the warrant was executed.

“It is not a possibility that they came from PDQ or from myself personally,” Kenney told Good Morning America in an interview at the time.

He further noted his company conducts individual “rattle” testing on each round before they are distributed to clients, The New York Times reported.

Dummy rounds will rattle when shaken, but live rounds will not make a sound.

The lawsuit accused PDQ Arm and Prop and Kenney of distributing “boxes of ammunition purporting to contain dummy rounds, but which contained a mix of dummy and live ammunition to the Rust production,” The New York Times reported.

Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys said Kenney and his company “knew or should have reasonably believed that the ammunition they supplied to the Rust production would be used in the filming of scenes involving the discharging of firearms.”

It further accused Kenney of trying to “direct” the criminal investigation in a manner that cast blame on Gutierrez-Reed, to include sharing text messages between the two to prove they had a “fallout,” CNN reported.

Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys expressed concern during an interview with NBC News on Nov. 3, 2021 that someone possibly could have wanted “to sabotage the set” in order “to prove a point” that they were “disgruntled” and “unhappy.”

That person could have placed one or more live rounds into the box of blanks, they suggested.

The lawsuit claimed Gutierrez-Reed personally loaded the firearm with six rounds of what she believed to be dummy rounds, and that she then showed the weapon to “Rust” assistant director Dave Halls, CNN reported.

The gun wasn’t to be used at the time, and Halls said he would be watching over the weapon while Gutierrez-Reed stepped away to carry out other tasks, according to the lawsuit.

When Baldwin got to the set and grabbed the gun, Halls violated protocol by failing to call Gutierrez-Reed to the set to re-inspect the weapon, she contended.

Gutierrez-Reed further alleged Baldwin ignored her request to attend an Oct. 15 “cross-draw training,” CNN reported.

“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,” the lawsuit read.

“Hannah would never have let Baldwin point the weapon at Halyna, as part of standard safe gun practices,” the complaint continued. “Apparently, no one inside the Church stopped Baldwin from doing so, including AD Halls.”

Kenney did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, according to The New York Times.

Gutierrez-Reed, 24, has been named as a defendant in another lawsuit filed by two members of the “Rust” crew who have accused her of failing to comply with appropriate safety measures while working in the role of an armorer.

Their lawsuit alleged Gutierrez-Reed did not have enough experience to be trusted to oversee firearms safety on the film set, The New York Times reported.

Although film industry experts have insisted no live rounds should ever be present on a production set, investigators seized a mixture of live rounds, dummy rounds and blanks from the set of “Rust,” locating about 500 rounds of ammunition total, ABC News previously reported.

The incident remains under investigation, and no charges have been filed.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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