A lawyer for armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of the firearms used on the Rust movie set, has suggested that someone may have deliberately put a live round into the gun which killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
“We know there was a live round in a box of dummy rounds that shouldn’t have been there,” said lawyer Jason Bowles in an interview with Today.
“We have people who had left the set, who had walked out because they were disgruntled. We have a time frame between 11am and 1pm, approximately, that day, in which the firearms at times were unattended, so there was opportunity to tamper with this scene.”
Bowles claims that his client had used ammunition on the set of Rust from a box of bullets which were labelled as dummy rounds, but he believes a third party may have added live rounds to this supply.
“We’re afraid that could have been what happened here, that somebody intended to sabotage this set with a live round intentionally placed in a box of dummies,” Bowles said on ABC television’s Good Morning America.
“We’re not saying anybody had any intent there was going to be a tragedy of homicide,” he added, “but they wanted to do something to cause a safety incident on set. That’s what we believe happened.”
Despite these new claims, Rust Movie Productions has said it is investigating the incident and had no official complaints about safety on the set. Local authorities are investigating the incident, and no charges have been filed as yet.
Asked if he thought a crew member could be responsible for adding live rounds to the dummy box, Bowles said: “I think you can’t rule anybody out at this point.”
Before the fatal shooting, several camera operators quit the film in protest of what they claim were long hours and objectionable working conditions.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on October 21 when a gun held by actor and producer Alec Baldwin, fired a live round. Baldwin had been advised that the weapon was “cold” – a term used in the industry meaning it was safe to use. Since the incident, further details have come to light about the shooting.
Bowles says that Gutierrez-Reed checked the gun before giving it to assistant director, Dave Halls. She reportedly spun the cylinder, checking each of the six bullets which she believed were dummy rounds. Halls then took the weapon inside the church where Baldwin was rehearsing a scene.
Authorities in Santa Fe are continuing to investigate the fatal incident.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.