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Armorer, assistant director in focus of Baldwin movie set shooting probe

·3-min read
Alec Baldwin fires prop gun on movie set, killing cinematographer

By Barbara Goldberg

(Reuters) - As law enforcement investigates the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/director-gutted-by-death-cinematographer-accidental-shooting-2021-10-23 by actor Alec Baldwin in an accident on the set of "Rust", court records show the probe includes the movie's armorer and assistant director.

Here are some details about both:

HANNAH GUTIERREZ

Gutierrez, 24, was working as the armorer, or person in charge of firearms https://www.reuters.com/world/us/prop-guns-spark-debate-after-cinematographers-death-set-2021-10-22 on the set. According to an affidavit filed by a Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office detective, she prepared three prop guns and placed them on a cart outside the building where rehearsals were taking place.

After the fatal shooting, Gutierrez was given the gun and removed a spent casing before handing it to arriving deputies, according to the affidavit.

Gutierrez could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Just a month before Thursday's accident, she had spoken about how she had been worried her inexperience meant she was not up to the job when she began her first movie as head armorer earlier this year - the Western "The Old Way" starring Nicolas Cage, which is scheduled for release next year.

"I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly," Gutierrez told the "Voices of the West" podcast about Western films.

Jeffrey W. Crow, who supervised Gutierrez on the Cage film, told the Los Angeles Times he had been impressed by her.

"Working with Hannah, I'm surprised that any of this happened under her watch," Crow told the newspaper. "I thought she was an exceptionally young, up-and-coming, very eager and talented armorer."

Gutierrez followed in the steps of her father Thell Reed, a well-known Hollywood armorer. According to his biography on film database IMDB.com, Reed began competition shooting as a boy, performed in Wild West shows, and taught gun-handling to actors including Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt.

Reed did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

DAVID HALLS

Assistant director Halls, 62, grabbed one of the prop guns off the cart and took it inside to Baldwin, yelling "cold gun", which on movie sets means the gun is not loaded with ammunition, including blanks, according to the detective's affidavit.

He did not know live rounds were in the prop gun when he handed it to the actor, the affidavit said.

Halls did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

An experienced Hollywood hand with credits on movies including "Fargo" in 1996, and 2003's "The Matrix Reloaded", Halls is also an actor.

On Sunday, NBC News and CNN quoted a Hollywood prop maker, Maggie Goll, as saying she had raised safety concerns about Halls when they worked together on Hulu's "Into the Dark" television series in 2019.

"He did not maintain a safe working environment," Goll told NBC News. "Sets were almost always allowed to become increasingly claustrophobic, no established fire lanes, exits blocked ... safety meetings were nonexistent."

Film producer Aaron B. Koontz, who worked with Halls on two previous movies but was not involved in the making of "Rust", told the Los Angeles Times that Halls was "extremely efficient" and a good manager.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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