Rust armorer sues weapons provider on Alec Baldwin film
Albuquerque, New Mexico - Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed has sued the weapons provider on the low-budget western, alleging he supplied a miss-marked box of ammunition containing live rounds to the set, contributing to the deadly accident involving actor Alec Baldwin.
Gutierrez Reed's lawsuit was filed late Wednesday in New Mexico's 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque against Seth Kenney and his firm, PDQ Arm & Prop.
The suit alleges that Kenney and PDQ violated New Mexico's Unfair Trade Practices Act by introducing dangerous products onto the movie set and by providing ammunition with "false label representations."
A box of ammunition, which surfaced on the set near Santa Fe on the morning of the fatal October 21 accident, was labeled "dummies" even though the box contained seven live rounds mixed in with 43 dummies, according to the suit.
Kenney has said he did not supply live rounds to Rust, including the one that Baldwin fired, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring the film's director, Joel Souza.
"PDQ Arm & Prop, LLC provided the guns, Blanks and a portion of Dummy Rounds to Rust," Kenney said in a statement provided to the LA Times in late November. "Consistent with the safe industry standards, PDQ did not provide Live Ammunition to Rust."
Neither Kenney nor his attorney was immediately available for comment Wednesday.
Shooting investigations still underway
The lawsuit comes as Santa Fe County Sheriff's investigators continue to pursue details about the accident that heightened calls for greater safety measures on film sets.
Deputies have been scrutinizing the actions of Baldwin – the star and producer who fired the prop gun during a rehearsal – as well as assistant director David Halls, who was in charge of safety on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set; and Gutierrez Reed, the production's 24-year-old armorer, who was responsible for the guns, ammunition, and gun safety.
Gutierrez Reed previously told sheriff's detectives that while she checked Baldwin's gun that day before the unscheduled rehearsal, she "didn't really check it too much," because the weapon had been locked in a safe during a lunch break, according to an November 30 affidavit filed by a sheriff's detective.
In her lawsuit, Gutierrez Reed said she did not hand Baldwin the weapon after the lunch break, as is the usual practice, saying she was unaware the gun was going to be used in a rehearsal.
Instead, she presented the gun to Halls, who told investigators he did not check all the rounds in the gun before it was handed to Baldwin.
The suit paints Gutierrez Reed as a low-level worker who was to be paid $7,500 for performing two jobs on Rust as the armorer in charge of weapons on the gun-heavy film and as assistant to the prop master.
Lawsuit speculates at source of ammo
The lawsuit speculated that the ammunition came from Gutierrez Reed's father, Thell Reed, who is a noted Hollywood armorer.
Kenney worked with Thell Reed on another western filmed last summer in Texas, and during that production, Kenney asked Thell Reed to bring live ammunition so they could take actors on that film, 1883, to a firing range and show them how it felt to fire a vintage gun.
Reed previously told investigators that Kenney returned to New Mexico with his can of ammunition. The can contained 200 to 300 live rounds of ammunition, according to the suit. Santa Fe Sheriff's deputies searched Kenney's PDQ shop in Albuquerque on November 30.
The lawsuit alleges without documentation that Kenney and PDQ Arm & Prop then provided some of the ammunition to Rust in a box labeled "45 Colt Dummies" even though "the contents contained both dummy and live ammunition," the suit said.
"These false representations caused live rounds to be introduced on set, resulting in a foreseeably catastrophic outcome, and causing damages to persons on the Rust set."
According to the lawsuit, Gutierrez Reed was surprised to find a full box of ammunition sitting atop her equipment bag in the prop truck when she arrived for work around 6:30 AM.
The LA Times previously reported that, in the days immediately following the shooting, property master Sarah Zachry, PDQ's firearms representative on Rust, told an acquaintance that the emergence of a new box of ammunition that morning was puzzling.
Gutierrez Reed's suit provides new details, including the number of live rounds allegedly found in the box and how the film's props department safeguarded guns but not the ammunition.
"Throughout production on the Rust set, prior to the shooting, the prop truck was virtually always left unlocked and accessible by anyone," the suit said.
It also noted that sheriff's investigators did not search the prop truck until six days after the shooting.
Cover photo: Screenshot/Facebook/Hannah Gutierrez-Reed