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Armorer in ‘Rust’ set shooting OK’d to keep gun until trial

Hannah Gutierrez Reed faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie "Rust."

(CN) — "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed has been released on her own recognizance and will be permitted to retain possession of a firearm after pleading not guilty to two charges of involuntary manslaughter in the October 2021 movie set shooting which killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

Gutierrez Reed made her first appearance Friday morning via Google Meet before Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer of New Mexico’s First Judicial Court. Attorney Jason Bowles represented Gutierrez Reed while District Attorney Mary Carnack-Altwies represented the state.

Actor Alec Baldwin and the film’s first assistant director David Halls waived their first appearances in their criminal cases. Baldwin entered a plea of not guilty Thursday to two charges of involuntary manslaughter. Halls had previously pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. Involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico. If convicted, each count carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.

On Oct. 21, 2021 during filming of the western at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, Baldwin was rehearsing a scene which involved him drawing a revolver and pointing it toward the camera. The gun discharged, a bullet struck Hutchins in the chest and Souza in the shoulder. Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she died. Souza, 48, was treated at a Santa Fe hospital and released the following day.

During investigations following the shooting the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department found 500 rounds of ammunition, a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what appeared to be live rounds. There were reports of other incidents involving misfires with guns on the set, and that members of the camera crew had walked off set to protest safety conditions just hours before the shooting.

The incident has sparked numerous lawsuits. Baldwin and the movie's producers reached a settlement in a wrongful death suit filed by Matthew Hutchins, widower of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and the couple's 9-year-old son Andros. However, a new lawsuit filed by Hutchins’ parents and siblings was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court this month. Baldwin, Halls and Gutierrez Reed have also been named as defendants in multiple lawsuits brought by crew members who were on set at the time of the shooting,

Gutierrez Reed filed suit in New Mexico state district court claiming that ammunition supplier Seth Kenney and his company PDQ Arm & Prop provided live rounds in a box that was only supposed to include dummy rounds. In a November 2021 appearance on NBC’s Today, Bowles, her lawyer, claimed “the person who put the live round in the box of dummy rounds had to have the purpose of sabotaging the set.”

During the brief first appearance hearing Friday morning, Bowles argued Gutierrez Reed is not a flight risk or a danger to the community and requested that the armorer be allowed to remain free on her own recognizance and continue working. He further requested she be permitted to keep a firearm in her home, arguing that the armorer had received numerous threats following the incident and that she has an active restraining order against a stalker and may require the weapon for self-defense. 

Carnack-Altwies agreed to the other conditions of release but objected to Gutierrez Reed being permitted the weapon. “This case came about, at least in part, because of Ms. Gutierrez Reed's sloppiness of handling of firearms and guns,” Carnack-Altwies argued. “There are other ways of dealing with this. She can move, she can have pepper spray, a bat, something else in her house, but I adamantly oppose her having firearms.”

Judge Marlowe Sommer granted the release and permission for Gutierrez Reed to maintain a firearm in her home for the purposes of self defense. An upcoming status hearing will determine the schedule for future court appearances and a trial date.

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