Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in ‘Rust’ Incident

Prop Armorer Convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter in ‘Rust’ Shooting

Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer responsible for overseeing the prop firearms on the set of the western film Rust, has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter. This conviction stems from her loading a live round of ammunition into a prop firearm handled by actor Alec Baldwin, resulting in the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during production in October 2021.

While Gutierrez Reed was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the jury in the Santa Fe criminal case acquitted her of a second charge related to evidence tampering. Sentencing for Gutierrez Reed is pending, with the possibility of facing up to 18 months in prison.

The incident prompted a broader legal response, with Dave Halls, the assistant director responsible for safety checks during filming, accepting a plea bargain for negligent use of a deadly weapon. Halls, who had declared the firearm to be safe (“cold gun”) before passing it to Baldwin, received a suspended sentence and six months of probation.

Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in 'Rust' Incident
Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in ‘Rust’ Incident (Credits: US Weekly)

Baldwin himself faced renewed charges of involuntary manslaughter in January following an initial drop of the accusation. Despite his assertions of innocence, a grand jury found cause to refile charges against him, highlighting the complexities of trust and responsibility on film sets.

The use of live ammunition is strictly prohibited on movie sets due to the inherent risks, as evidenced by the tragic events on the Rust set.

The incident occurred during a rehearsal scene on October 21, 2021, when a firearm in Baldwin’s possession discharged, striking Hutchins in the chest before injuring writer-director Joel Souza. Hutchins later succumbed to her injuries, leaving behind a grieving family and a profound impact on the film industry.

The subsequent investigation sought to determine how live ammunition found its way onto the set, revealing multiple breakdowns in safety protocols. Civil lawsuits have since emerged, reflecting the widespread repercussions of the fatal shooting.

Hutchins, a talented cinematographer with a promising career, was remembered by her husband Matt as an inspiration to many. Her loss was deeply felt, underscoring the human tragedy at the heart of the Rust incident.

Hutchins’ journey in the film industry, from her roots in Ukraine to her recognition as a rising star by American Cinematographer magazine, reflected her passion and talent. Rust represented a significant opportunity for her, showcasing her skills in a high-profile production led by Baldwin.

The Rust tragedy serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of safety and vigilance on film sets, highlighting the need for accountability and reform within the industry.