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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Bevan Hurley

Alec Baldwin, an armourer and an assistant director: Who was charged in Rust shooting death of Halyna Hutchins?

Getty Images

Alec Baldwin and two crew members were charged over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust in January 2023, after an exhaustive 15-month investigation.

Then on Thursday 20 April, weeks before the trial was due to begin, Baldwin’s attorneys announced a charge of involuntary manslaughter had been dismissed. But another involuntary manslaughter charge — this time brought by a grand jury indictment — would be brought against the actor in January 2024.

Rust armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was also facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter, while first assistant director David Halls has agreed to plead guilty to the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

In the aftermath of the shooting, crew members, actors and Hutchins’ family lawyered up and blamed each other for the tragedy, launching a swirl of civil lawsuits.

All involved protested their innocence while blaming poor industry practice for Hutchins’ tragic death.

Last September, Ms Carmack-Altwies announced four “possible defendants” including Baldwin and three others while asking New Mexico’s Board of Finance for an additional $300,000 to complete the investigation.

The investigation into Hutchins’s death was beset by controversy. Special investigator Andrea Reeb was dismissed after Baldwin’s attorneys accused her of political bias. And a gun enhancement charge against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed was dismissed in February.

Here’s what we know about the four people who were at the centre of the investigation.

Alec Baldwin - grand jury indictment after charges initially dropped

Alec Baldwin during an interview about Halyna Hutchins’ death
— (ABC)

For Alec Baldwin, Rust was a passion project years in the making.

In May 2020, Baldwin announced he would produce and star in Rust, a low-budget Western he created with writer and director Joel Souza.

The star of more than 100 movies and TV shows, Baldwin had become one of the most famous actors in the US.

He first rose to prominence in the 1980s, later becoming a household name in films such as Beetlejuice and The Hunt For Red October.

He later as well as his collaborations with directors Woody Allen, in films such as Alice, To Rome With Love and Blue Jasmine, and Martin Scorsese in The Aviator and The Departed.

Baldwin would become known almost as much for his fiery temperament in dealing with the media as for his acting skills.

Baldwin has placed responsibility for the tragedy on Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who served as the armourer and props assistant on the film, and assistant director David Halls.

On April 20, his attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro told The Independent in a statement that the charges had been dismissed.

“We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident.”

However, a grand jury indicted Baldwin on involuntary manslaughter charges in January. An analysis of the gun used in the shooting led special prosecutors to once again bring charges against the actor. Forensic Science Services in Arizona studied the weapon and determined that the trigger would have had to have been pulled in order for the fatal shot to be fired, according to the Associated Press.

Lucien Haag, who led the analysis, said in a report that “given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.”

The actor has insisted he did not pull the trigger and that the shot was fired due to a malfunction.

Baldwin’s defence team said they would fight the charges.

“We look forward to our day in court,” his attorneys told the Associated Press.

Gun enhancement charges against Baldwin were dropped in late February.

Baldwin’s trial is scheduled to begin this summer.

Last October, Hutchins’ estate reached a settlement with Baldwin and the film’s production company over a wrongful death lawsuit.

His first marriage to actress Kim Basinger was in 2002, and the couple shares one daughter, Ireland.

Baldwin is now married to yoga teacher Hilaria Thomas, with whom he has seven children.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed - facing involuntary manslaughter charge

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was the armourer on the set of Rust
— (Facebook / Voices of the West)

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 25, was the armourer and key props assistant on set, making her responsible for maintaining control of any prop weapons.

The daughter of famed Hollywood armourer Thell Reed, Gutierrez-Reed only had a handful of credits to her name prior to Rust.

According to a police search warrant, obtained by the Associated Press, Gutierrez-Reed laid three guns onto a cart including the .45 revolver that contained live ammunition.

The gun was picked up by assistant director David Halls and handed to Baldwin, according to the warrant.

In a statement released through her lawyers in October 2021, Gutierrez-Reed said being hired for two jobs on the film made it “extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armourer”.

“She fought for training, days to maintain weapons, and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department. The whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including a lack of safety meetings. This was not the fault of Hannah,” her lawyers said.

A 2021 Los Angeles Times report claimed there had been three misfires of prop guns on set in the days leading up to Hutchins’ death.

Early on the day of the fatal shooting, seven crew members quit in protest at the conditions.

The Wrap quoted an anonymous set worker as saying that the crew took the replica pistol that killed Hutchins with them to go target shooting at beer cans to pass the time.

The weapons were returned after a lunch break, according to the insider’s account.

Gutierrez-Reed had also been the subject of complaints for her work in a separate film The Old Way.

In a statement released to Deadline in 2022, Gutierrez-Reed was critical of the investigation into Hutchins’ death.

A gun enhancement charge has been dropped against Gutierrez-Reed.

Gutierrez-Reed is facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of evidence tampering. The latter charge accuses her of asking a friend to hide cocaine for her while police were investigating the shooting.

Her trial started jury selection on 21 February. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The armourer said the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office had failed to properly look into where did live rounds that ended up on the set of Rust had come from.

In 2022, she sued a Santa Fe props supplier Seth Kenney in a New Mexico court for allegedly mixing dummy rounds with live bullets.

David Halls - facing negligent use of a deadly weapon charge

David Halls is an experienced assistant director who was working on the set of Rust when Halyna Hitchins was killed
— (IMDB)

David Halls is an experienced assistant director who was working on the set of Rust when Hutchins died.

His credits over a 25-year career in Hollywood include 2003’s Matrix Reloaded, Fargo in 1996 and Bad Santa, according to IMDB.

According to a search warrant, Halls grabbed one of three prop guns from a cart and yelled “cold gun” as he handed it to Baldwin, indicating that the gun did not contain any live rounds.

An attorney for Halls has disputed that he gave the gun to Baldwin, and said it was not his responsibility to check the weapon for live rounds.

In 2019, Halls was fired from the set of the film Freedom’s Path after a firearm unexpectedly went off, injuring a sound crew member, the production company Rocket Soul Studios has said.

The sound crew member “recoiled” after the shot discharged, causing filming to temporarily halt, and was treated by a medic. Halls was “officially terminated” that day, the production company said in a statement to CNN in 2021.

“Dave was very remorseful for the events, and understood the reasons he was being terminated,” the company said.

He is yet to be sentenced.

Seth Kenney - not charged

Albuquerque prop shop owner Seth Kenney was hired to provide the movie set with guns, dummy rounds and blanks.

A month after the shooting, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office obtained a search warrant for two of his businesses PDQ Arm and Prop LLC.

According to the warrant, obtained by KOAT, Mr Kenney reportedly told deputies he thought the live ammunition could have been “handmade reloaded rounds” that he was given years beforehand.

The search warrant showed that deputies were looking for live or spent ammunition, boxes of ammunition with the “Starline brass” logo for evidence comparison, and documents related to the supply of equipment on Rust.

Through his attorney Adam Engelskirchen, Mr Kenney denied providing live ammo to the set in a statement to ABC News.

The attorney said the 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,” Mr Engelskirchen said.

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