Rust Film Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Shoot Death

Rust Film Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Shoot Death

Rust Film Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Shoot Death

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer in the ill-fated Western film “Rust,” has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

The incident occurred on October 21, 2021, during filming at the Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Gutierrez-Reed handled weapons on set, including loading firearms for the actors.

Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the person in charge of the weapons on the movie set of “Rust,” was found guilty on Wednesday of causing the accidental death of the film’s cameraperson.

After three hours of thinking, the jury decided on Wednesday afternoon. They had listened to two weeks of people talking about how the set wasn’t safe.

Gutierrez Reed was found not guilty of another charge of hiding evidence. She could go to jail for up to 18 months when she’s sentenced in April.

After the decision, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said Gutierrez Reed had to go to jail immediately. Her lawyer, Monnica Barreras, patted her back to make her feel better as the police took her away.

Rust Film Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Shoot Death

Outside the First Judicial District courthouse in Santa Fe, N.M., juror Alberto Sanchez told reporters that the jury reached a “fair” verdict.

“Someone died,” Sanchez said. “You gotta take responsibility. Especially when you’re handling weapons and you’re in charge of those. That’s your job.”

Gutierrez Reed was the first to stand trial in the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting on the film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe, N.M.

Alec Baldwin is set to face his manslaughter trial in July. The first assistant director, Dave Halls, took a plea deal last year to a misdemeanor count of negligent handling of a gun and served six months of unsupervised probation.

Rust Film Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Shoot Death

Gutierrez Reed loaded a live bullet into Baldwin’s pistol, which should have contained only dummy rounds. The gun fired, killing Halyna Hutchins and seriously wounding director Joel Souza.

Gutierrez Reed got the job mainly because her father, Thell Reed, is a legendary film armorer who worked on “Tombstone,” “3:10 to Yuma,” and “L.A. Confidential,” among many others.

Thell Reed was in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Though his name was on the defense witness list, he was not called to testify. Stacy Reed, the defendant’s mother, was also there and was in tears when her daughter was led away.

Rachel Mason, a friend of Hutchins’, attended the trial and is directing and producing a documentary about her life entitled “Halyna.” Interviewed after the verdict, Mason said she was still processing feelings of grief and mourning.

“My overall feeling is extreme sadness that Halyna will continue to not be here,” Mason said. “Hannah going to jail will not change that.”

To convict on the involuntary manslaughter charge, jurors had to agree that Gutierrez Reed acted with “willful disregard for the safety of others” and that the death was a “foreseeable” consequence of her actions.

Rust Film Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Shoot Death

Shortly before the verdict, the jurors asked a question about what might constitute an “intervening event” that would break the foreseeable chain of events. Marlowe Sommer said that she could not offer further explanation than what was contained in jury instructions.

In her closing argument on Wednesday morning, prosecutor Kari Morrissey argued that Gutierrez Reed’s actions constituted an “astonishing” failure to adhere to industry safety practices. She contended that Gutierrez Reed was responsible for bringing the live rounds to set and that she never correctly rattle-tested them to ensure they were dummies.

The jury appeared to agree with that assessment.

“She could have paused work, stopped, and cleared it all up, and just never did,” Sanchez said outside the courthouse. “That was her job to check those rounds — those firearms. No one wanted to pay attention or do that sort of stuff and stop work.”

Defense attorney Jason Bowles countered that a workplace safety investigation blamed management partly for failing to give Gutierrez Reed adequate time to do her job. He also sought to put the blame onto Seth Kenney, the weapons supplier who provided blanks and dummy rounds to the production.

Bowles said he was disappointed with the verdict outside court and would appeal.

“The evidence wasn’t sufficient to convict,” he said. “It was a lot of guesswork, a lot of speculation.”

Mary Carmack-Altwies, the elected district attorney in Santa Fe, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon thanking the jury and Morrissey and Jason Lewis, the outside attorneys she appointed as special prosecutors.

Rust Film Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Shoot Death

“From the outset of this case, the FJDA’s sole pursuits were to bring justice to Halyna Hutchins’ family and friends and to ensure that those responsible for her death were held accountable,” Carmack-Altwies said. “In order to do so, the prosecution team exhausted investigative efforts which proved pivotal to successfully moving forward with this tragic and entirely preventable case.”

Morrissey and Lewis took over the case last March after Carmack-Altwies and another special prosecutor withdrew.

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The two private attorneys hired new firearms and imaging experts to enhance photographs. They subpoenaed behind-the-scenes footage and conducted an exhaustive review of thousands of photos and videos, concluding that Gutierrez Reed had brought the live rounds to the film set.

Sanchez said the jury agreed with that conclusion.

Gloria Allred, who has sued Baldwin and the “Rust” producers on behalf of Hutchins’ parents and sister, issued a statement saying she is “satisfied” with the verdict but that her clients wish for everyone responsible to be held accountable.

“Today was the first trial and conviction in the criminal justice process,” Allred and co-counsel John Carpenter said. “We look forward to the justice system continuing to make sure that everyone else who is responsible for Halyna’s death is required to face the legal consequences for their actions.”

The Tragic Shooting: Rust Film Armorer

Halyna Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer, lost her life when a prop gun fired unexpectedly.

Gutierrez-Reed had loaded a live bullet into actor Alec Baldwin’s pistol, which should have contained only dummy rounds.

Rust Film Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Shoot Death

The gun discharged, fatally wounding Hutchins and seriously injuring director Joel Souza.

The trial revealed significant safety lapses and negligence on the film set.

Verdict and Sentencing

After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury found Gutierrez-Reed guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

She was acquitted of a separate charge of tampering with evidence.

The armorer now faces up to 18 months in prison, with sentencing expected in April.

Impact and Responsibility

Gutierrez-Reed’s conviction underscores the importance of safety protocols on film sets.

Her actions were deemed reckless and negligent, leading to a foreseeable consequence—the tragic loss of life.

Alec Baldwin, who also handled the gun, is set to face his manslaughter trial in July.


Gutierrez-Reed’s father, Thell Reed, a legendary film armorer, was present during the verdict.

The film industry must continue to prioritize safety to prevent such devastating incidents.

As the legal process unfolds, the memory of Halyna Hutchins remains a poignant reminder of the stakes involved in filmmaking.

In summary, the Rust film’s armorer’s guilt has far-reaching implications, emphasizing the need for vigilance and responsibility in handling firearms on set.

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