The prop master and assistant director, who handled the prop gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Alec Baldwin's film 'Rust' was reportedly hired only lately as a replacement after some of the crew members walked off the film's set over safety concerns. According to reports, several crew members had launched protests over conditions on the set before the tragic incident happened.
The prop master was hired to replace someone else amid chaos on the set, according to a source involved with the movie, as reported by the New York Post. Some of the crew members who had walked off the set are claiming that the prop gun had a live round in it.
New and Novice
A search warrant released on Friday mentioned that the armorer Hannah Gutierrez laid out three prop guns on a cart outside the filming location. The film's first assistant director Dave Halls then took one of the guns from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds.
The warrant further reveals that Halls was confident that the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin. "Cold gun!" he shouted before handing the gun to Baldwin. The phrase is used to signal to cast and crew that the gun is safe to fire for the scene, the warrant said.
A few moments later Baldwin while filming a scene inside an Old West-style church, the actor aimed the gun at the camera and pulled the trigger. The gun fired and the bullet hit Hutchins, killing her, while injuring director Joel Souza, who was standing just behind her.
Initially, it was want known who was at fault. A day later on Friday, according to a 911 call recording obtained by TMZ, a woman who identifies herself as the movie's script supervisor can be heard blaming the accident on someone whose name is apparently bleeped out.
"OK, this f-â-king [bleep] that yelled at me at lunch asking about revisions, this motherf-â-ker," she says, apparently to someone nearby.
"Did you see him lean over my desk and yell at me? He's supposed to check the guns. He's responsible for what happened."
Innocent Life Lost
According to a Daily Mail report, the gun that fired the fatal shot was a vintage-style Colt revolver. The movie, set in 1880's Kansas, stars Baldwin as the infamous outlaw Harland Rust, whose grandson is sentenced to hang for an accidental murder.
According to LA Times, even Hutchins was concerned over the safety conditions on the film's set and had been advocating for safer working conditions for her team. In fact, this was a concern from the beginning of the film's shoot.
According to sources, a crew of workers had also walked off the film's set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, NM on Thursday morning citing poor safety protocols, before Baldwin, 68, fired the gun later that day. Moreover, the prop gun had reportedly also misfired twice last Saturday and once during the previous week, the LA Times reported.
Who is Hannah Gutierrez?
Although the film's crew didn't disclose the name of the armorer, it was later revealed that her name is Hannah Gutierrez. According to a call sheet from the set obtained by the Wall Street Journal, the 24-year-old woman has been identified as the daughter of legendary Hollywood armorer and firearms consultant Thell Reed, who trained her from a young age.
In fact, Gutierrez herself said that in a recent podcast interview. Halls is a prominent assistant director and a veteran who has to his credits handling prop guns and other prop weapons on scores of productions, including 'Fargo', 'The Matrix Reloaded', and the TV cop comedy 'Reno 911'.
In the podcast interview Gutierrez said that she had recently completed her first film as head armorer on 'The Old Way', starring Nicolas Cage. "I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly," she said in the interview last month.
Interestingly, after the bullet hit Hutchins and then Souza, Gutierrez took possession of the gun and a spent casing. It was later turned over to police along with other prop guns and ammunition used on the set.
Los Angeles lawyer Louis Shapiro predicted that Thursday's shooting would lead to a wrongful-death suit and potentially a criminal case.