Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer on set of the Alec Baldwin film Rust where a prop gun accidentally fired and killed the cinematographer, is under fire today after new information has emerged. An interview has surfaced from a podcast she did in September. And the quotes from the inexperienced armorer aren’t being received well.
Appearing on a September episode of the Voices of the West podcast, the 24-year-old armorer discussed her experience on The Old Way, a western starring Nicolas Cage, which she called a “pretty sweet gig.”
“I think the best part about my job is just showing people who are normally kind of freaked out by guns how safe they can be and how they’re not really problematic unless put in the wrong hands,” she said.
Hannah Gutierrez Reed, daughter of well-known armorer Thell Reed, also alleged that she was self-taught. Her dad had taught her a little growing up, but she mainly “figured” it out on “my own.”
“Loading blanks” is still the “scariest thing to me” she admitted on the podcast, which may have been the cause for the incident on the set of Rust that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Rust was only Hannah Gutierrez Reed’s second job as head armorer, on a set that was rife with safety issues and workplace complaints. A debate in Hollywood has since started to address changes toward the use of guns on set.
Working on The Old Way, she was “still learning new things” and recalled that “it’s all very quick.” She was reportedly “really nervous” before filming started, and said that she “almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready.”
The Old Way prop master, Jeffrey Crow, told the LA Times that he would be surprised to find out if Hannah Gutierrez Reed was responsible for the prop gun misfire on the set of Rust. He was her supervisor on The Old Way, and though she was “an exceptionally young, up-and-coming, very eager and talented armorer.”
“She was without a lot of experience, but coming from her family lineage, I thought she was exceptional, professional, and I thought she had–I still think she has–many years of an amazing career ahead of her,” Crow said. “I had a lot of faith in her, and I still do. I’m gonna be surprised if there was anything she was ultimately responsible for in all this, just seeing how she acted in the past. This is all such a surprise.”
An investigation is still underway to determine who should be liable in the prop gun accident. Rust‘s Production company is also conducting an internal safety review, after reports that dozens of camera workers walked off set due to dangerous working conditions.
According to Dateline, the prop gun misfire wasn’t the first gun-related incident on set either. “A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin,” one source recalled. “They just fired loud pops. A person was just holding it in their hands and it went off.”
Another source told People that the same gun Alec Baldwin fired was also used for target practice prior to the shooting.
According to Steve Wolf, a firearms expect investigating the scene who spoke with CNN, he has doubts that the blank round was properly manufactured, as well as questions as to how the gun was loaded.
“We went wrong in at least three directions,” he stated. “Wrong gun, wrong ammo, and improper handling of the firearm.”
“Even if you have a bazooka with live rounds going down-range, if you don’t point it at somebody, you’re not going to kill them,” Wolf continued. “So, the fact that this gun was pointed at someone and then discharged is an absolute inexcusable violation of firearms safety rules.”
No arrests were made in the incident, and no party has been sued for negligence or liability. Alec Baldwin has been cooperating with authorities, and “offering support” to Halyna Hutchins’ husband, who said that he appreciated Baldwin’s heartfelt response.
Hannah Gutierrez Reed has yet to address the matter publicly. Rust Movie Productions has been shut down indefinitely as the investigation continues.