A VETERAN prop master claims a “cardinal sin” reportedly committed by the armorer on the set of Rust is to blame for Alec Baldwin fatally shooting one crew member and wounding the film’s director.
Bill Davis, a retired police officer who has worked on more than 300 movies and TV shows, revealed his anguish to The Sun over what he called the flagrantly “negligent behavior” exhibited by 24-year-old armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed on the set of the doomed production.
The set of Rust, an upcoming Western film, was besieged by tragedy on Thursday when a prop gun held by Baldwin misfired during a rehearsal, fatally striking cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
The movie’s director, Joel Souza, was also hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his shoulder but was later discharged.
It’s believed Baldwin’s gun had accidentally been loaded with a live round.
The 62-year-old actor was handed the weapon by Rust’s assistant director, Dave Halls, who reportedly told him the gun was “cold” – or unloaded – before the fatal shot rang out.
According to a police affidavit, Souza told investigators that the cast and crew had been preparing for the scene before lunch but then took a meal break away from the rehearsal area at around 12.30pm.
Read our Alec Baldwin shooting live blog for the very latest news and updates…
Citing Covid-19 protocols, Gutierrez Reed reportedly set up three prop guns on a cart outside Bonanza Creek Ranch’s church set for the scene.
When they returned, Souza said, he wasn’t sure whether the guns were checked again.
Halls is then said to have handed Baldwin a “revolver” which suddenly discharged as he pulled the weapon from his holster, killing Hutchins.
In an interview with The Sun, Davis said he believes that Gutierrez Reed had committed a fatal error by allegedly leaving the guns unattended on a cart and allowing a member of the crew to handle the weapon.
“A gun would never be left unattended on my set – It’s a cardinal sin,” he said.
“If we’re breaking for lunch, I’m not going to walk off set to a catering truck a block away or whatever. I gather up all the guns and all the ammunition, my cleaning supplies, my tools, and I put them back in my vehicle, lock and alarm it, and then when we come back from lunch.
“I then go through the process of bringing everything back onto the set and check the weapons again – that’s how it’s meant to be done.”
Further compounding Davis’ anger and shock is the fact that live ammunition was anywhere near a movie set in the first place, he said.
A report by TMZ suggested that the revolver used by Baldwin had previously been used by crew members for target practice.
Sources connected to the production told the outlet that the prop gun had been used recreationally away from the set days prior to the deadly shooting.
CEO of The Wrap, Sharon Waxman, also told CNN on Monday night that crew members had engaged in a pastime called “plinking” on set just hours before Hutchins was killed.
“There’s this pastime that crew members sometimes do, it’s called ‘plinking,’ and they go out into the rural areas and they shoot at beer cans. This is with live ammunition. We learned that this happened the morning of the day that Halyna Hutchins was killed,” Waxman said.
Waxman told CNN that “plinking” is common when there’s downtime during a shoot. The report has not yet been verified.
Detectives are, however, confirmed to have recovered loose and unboxed ammunition and a “fanny pack” filled with bullets from the movie set as a part of a search warrant.
The items included three revolvers, two boxes of ‘ammo,’ “loose ammo and boxes”, spent casings as well as “a fanny pack w/ammo”, according to the inventory delivered to Santa Fe County Magistrate Court.
It’s unclear what type of ammo was recovered, whether live rounds, dummy bullets, or blank cartridges.
Still, Davis claims the chaos on set amounts to “negligence” and speaks to the inexperience of Gutierrez Reed.
“People that were in positions of power on this set, like our prop mistress, shouldn’t have been. She’s only 24-years-old and by law, in America, you have to be 21 to handle firearms,” he said.
“This is only her second movie and she’s the head armorer. It took me nine years of interning to get familiar with the prop craft and with handling guns. It took me nine years before I thought I was qualified to be a prop manager and during those nine years, I did about 15/16 films.
“So I had a lot of on-set experience before I took up a job like that, and she [Guiterrez Reed] did not.”
A report by The Daily Beast over the weekend claimed that there had been two prior incidents of gun misfirings onset before Hutchins was killed.
Davis said one incident of misfiring alone should’ve been grounds for Gutierrez Reed’s dismissal.
“The thing is when you have misfires or discharges, they’re negligent discharges – not accidental discharges.
“It’s all negligence because you have to pick the gun up, you have to load the gun, you have to hand it to the actor, the actor is going to fire the gun on command.
“If this happened on my set,” Davis said, “never mind about being fired by the production, I’d fire myself.”
‘SHE SCREWED UP’
He continued that he suspects as though Gutierrez Reed may have been hired because of who her father is – stuntman and legendary Hollywood armorer Thell Reed – rather than on merit.
“She was probably just playing her name,” he said. “But if you look at pictures of this girl she’s got tattoos and she’s posing with guns and that’s all well and good, but she doesn’t have the resume to prequalify her as an actual armorer.
“She could be a gun handler in the prop department, but she’s not really qualified to do that either.”
He added: “I have never met this young lady, I don’t know her from Adam, but what I can tell you is she screwed up and now someone is dead. It’s as simple as that.”
Davis said he suspects “heads are going to roll” legally after police complete their investigation into the shooting, and suggests that Guiterrez Reed could be hit with either negligent homicide charges or criminal negligence.
Also in the line of fire is Baldwin, who is a producer of the movie, and the assistant director, Dave Halls, according to Davis.
“If I was the armorer on that set I would be expecting to face criminal charges,” he said. “The cops have a shot at going after her for negligent homicide because she was negligent.
“Those charges would probably be brought down to manslaughter and it’s possible that Baldwin could get that too, but I really doubt it because of his name and the Hollywood community will rally behind him – even though he hasn’t made too many friends lately.
“Also the first assistant director – he’s the one who took the gun off the table, and he’s not even qualified to handle it. I bet he couldn’t name one part of that gun, yet he’s the one who handed it to the actor,” he claimed. “It makes no sense.”
‘HEADS WILL ROLL’
Davis said only two people on set should ever handle a firearm: the armorer and the actor.
“But what I’m hearing,” he said, “is the guns were just sitting out on a table. And the first AD he walked over, helped himself to one of these guns and handed it off to Baldwin and said that they’re giving him a ‘Cold Gun.’
“To be honest with you, it’s just negligence all the way around – and heads are going to roll.”
Davis said he’s particularly “angry” with Gutierrez Reed, because “she’s giving armorers a bad name.”
Indeed, since Thursday’s tragic shooting there have been various calls to permanently ban blank rounds and real firearms from the sets of future productions.
One such petition, launched on Change.org, is calling for a law that would “ban the use of real firearms on-set and demand better crew working conditions.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition has amassed more than 52,000 signatures.
A number of celebrities have backed the effort, including Olivia Wilde, who urged officials to create the law in Halyna Hutchin’s name.
“It’s time to create ‘Halyna’s Law’, which will ban the use of real firearms on film production sets and create a safe working environment for everyone involved,” Wilde tweeted on Sunday.
GUNS BAN ‘UNLIKELY’
Davis, meanwhile, contests that he doesn’t believe real weapons should be banned from set entirely – rather that those who aren’t qualified to handle them should be.
“I don’t think fake guns or CGI will ever replace the real thing because they just don’t look real and CGI can get very expensive, fast,” he said.
“When it comes to real guns, when they’re treated properly with respect and reverence, then you’ll be just fine. They’re not going to hurt you, but you gotta put people in a position that actually know through experience what they’re doing.
“If you had a son or a daughter and they got hit by a drunk driver and killed, you wouldn’t say ‘let’s take all automobiles off the market’. So the same can be said of guns.”
An investigation into the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins continues.
Baldwin, who is said to be “inconsolable”, broke his silence over the tragic accident on Friday, revealing his heartache over his role in Hutchins’ death.
“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” he wrote.
“I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family.
“My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
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