Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, "Rust" Armorer, Receives 18-Month Prison Sentence For Fatal 2021 Shooting

After the verdicts were announced, authorities detained Gutierrez-Reed. Her defense attributed the shooting to the film’s management, arguing that significant safety concerns existed on the “Rust” set that were beyond her control. Her defense attorneys highlighted that the main ammunition supplier for the movie had seemingly not been scrutinized

Today, in a New Mexico state court, the “Rust” armorer, who was convicted last month of involuntary manslaughter in the tragic shooting of Halyna Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed received the maximum punishment for her involvement in the 2021 incident, which experts have deemed preventable. During a rehearsal on the movie set, actor Alec Baldwin discharged live rounds from a prop gun, leading to the fatal outcome.

Emotional Sentence Hearing
Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer delivered the sentence to conclude a highly emotional hearing on Monday morning.

Gutierrez-Reed’s sentencing hearing commenced at 10:30 a.m. in Santa Fe. Throughout the proceedings, she sat in the courtroom, occasionally displaying tears in her eyes. Statements were provided by Joel Souza, the writer and director of “Rust” who was injured in the shooting, Craig Mizrahi, Hutchins’ former agent, and several of her friends, detailing the profound impact of her tragic death.

“What I want is simply not possible. What I want is, everyone is OK and lives aren’t destroyed,” Souza primarily addressed the grief experienced by Hutchins’ husband, their son, and the rest of her family.

“One moment the world made sense, and the next moment, it didn’t. It still doesn’t, and I don’t know if it ever will again,” he told the courtroom through a virtual call. “Those of us who were lucky enough to have shared in her [Hutchins’] fleeting time on this planet are better for it.”

Mizrahi and Emilia Mendieta, who revealed herself in court as Hutchins’ intimate friend and former classmate, both recounted personal stories about the cinematographer. Hutchins has often been depicted since her passing as a skilled “rising star” on the brink of a significant breakthrough in her career at the time of her death.

“The circumstances surrounding the disaster force us to ask so many questions, with one in particular above all: How could this have happened?” Mizrahi said. He suggested broad failures by Gutierrez-Reed as well as “Rust” leadership caused the shooting.

“When the producers hired someone with virtually no experience to not only be the armorer but also the assistant prop master, two very challenging positions, they made a crucial decision to put the safety of the cast and crew on the back burner,” he said. “As for Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, it’s my opinion that she should not have held either position, much less both, but that once accepted, the responsibility should have been taken more seriously. Sadly it wasn’t, and we all know the result.”

Legal Proceedings and Pending Charges

After the verdicts were announced, authorities detained Gutierrez-Reed. Her defense attributed the shooting to the film’s management, arguing that significant safety concerns existed on the “Rust” set that were beyond her control. Her defense attorneys highlighted that the main ammunition supplier for the movie had seemingly not been scrutinized.

Gutierrez-Reed, whose father is an established Hollywood armorer, had previously entered pleas of not guilty to both charges. Following the jury’s verdicts on March 6, Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, informed CBS News that he intended to appeal “several issues that arose during the trial.” However, subsequent court filings indicate that the defense’s efforts to secure a new trial and her release, and later, her conditional release, in the aftermath of the conviction were swiftly denied by the state.

Prosecutors’ Accusations

Throughout the trial, prosecutors depicted Gutierrez-Reed as negligent and irresponsible, aiming to persuade jurors that her carelessness and “willful disregard” for others’ safety ultimately put her “Rust” colleagues at risk and led to Hutchins’ death. Prosecutors sought the maximum prison sentence for Gutierrez-Reed’s manslaughter conviction, emphasizing her apparent lack of remorse over the fatal incident in court.

Additional documents filed in the case mention at least one more felony charge related to weapons handling against Gutierrez-Reed in New Mexico, which is still pending. Allegedly, she “intentionally hid a firearm from security at a local bar to bring the firearm into the bar” upon her arrival in the state for filming.

Prosecutors stated that she later recorded a selfie video in the bar restroom, boasting about her successful deception and displaying “a nickel-plated semi-automatic pistol” towards the camera. Additionally, the state accused her of possessing cocaine while working as the firearms expert on “Rust,” which is also considered a felony in New Mexico.

The allegation regarding illegal substance use was presented as evidence during Gutierrez-Reed’s trial earlier this year. The trial lasted slightly over two weeks and primarily focused on the origins of six live bullets discovered on the “Rust” set as investigators commenced their probe into the shooting on October 21, 2021. On that day, Baldwin was rehearsing a scene for “Rust,” to be filmed at an unspecified future time, with Hutchins and Souza.

What really happened?

The rehearsal took place on set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a popular filming location for Western movies on the outskirts of Santa Fe. It primarily involved Baldwin drawing a .45-caliber revolver from a holster, staying in character, and aiming the gun towards Hutchins and Souza as they observed the scene from behind a monitor. During one draw, the weapon discharged live bullets, one of which passed through Hutchins before hitting Souza. Hutchins was declared dead at a nearby hospital less than two hours later, while Souza sustained injuries but survived.

According to industry-wide regulations and union guidelines governing the use of firearms on film sets, the revolver should not have contained live ammunition. The Santa Fe district attorney’s office stated in their initial probable cause statement that evidence suggested the scene Baldwin was rehearsing should not have required blanks either. Instead, inert dummy rounds should have sufficed, and expert weapons consultants cited in the statement noted that a plastic or replica gun would have been appropriate for the rehearsal.

Managing the weapons used on the “Rust” set, including the gun that discharged and fatally struck Hutchins, was Gutierrez-Reed’s responsibility, according to the district attorney’s office. However, there are conflicting reports on how live ammunition could have ended up in the revolver. Initially, the probable cause statement alleged that Gutierrez-Reed had loaded the .45 prior to a lunch break on Oct. 21, stored it, retrieved it after lunch, and then handed it off to the first assistant director, David Halls, without conducting the necessary safety checks.

Halls had already completed six months of unsupervised parole for negligent firearm use after pleading no contest and acknowledging his mishandling of the weapon that discharged on the film set. He provided emotional testimony in court during Gutierrez-Reed’s trial, stating that she had passed the revolver to Baldwin twice during the Oct. 21 rehearsal. Initially, it was without any ammunition, and the second time, with five dummy rounds and one live bullet.

Gutierrez-Reed’s Statement

In a statement released through her attorneys in November 2021, Gutierrez-Reed asserted that she had indeed conducted a thorough safety check on the .45 revolver before passing it on and was unaware of how live ammunition ended up inside the weapon.

“No one could have anticipated or thought that someone would introduce live rounds into this set,” The statement also mentioned that Gutierrez-Reed had instructed actors working on “Rust” not to aim guns at others on the set.

Baldwin’s Position

Alec Baldwin has maintained that during the Oct. 21 rehearsal, he pulled back the hammer of the revolver but did not pull the trigger. Following the shooting, the actor reached a settlement with Hutchins’ family in a lawsuit, filed a lawsuit against several members of the “Rust” crew, including Gutierrez-Reed, alleging negligence, and pleaded not guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge against him. The case against him has not yet gone to trial.


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