‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed sues weapons provider on Alec Baldwin film

“Rust” armer Hannah Gutierrez Reed sued the weapons supplier on the low-budget western. He claimed he provided a mis-marked box of ammunition that contained live rounds to the set and contributed to the tragic accident involving Alec Baldwin. Gutierrez Reed filed a lawsuit against Seth Kenney’s firm, PDQ Arm & Prop, late Wednesday at New Mexico’s 2nd Judicial District Court. The suit alleges that Kenney and PDQ violated New Mexico’s Unfair Trade Practices Act by introducing dangerous products onto the movie set and by providing ammunition with “false label representations.”

A box of ammunition, which surfaced on the set near Santa Fe on the morning of the fatal Oct. 21 accident, was labeled “dummies” even though the box contained seven live rounds mixed in with 43 dummies, according to the suit.

Kenney said that he didn’t supply live rounds to “Rust,” including the one that Baldwin fired ,, killing Halyna Hutchins as well as injuring Joel Souza, the film’s filmmaker.

“PDQ Arm & Prop, LLC provided guns, blanks, and a portion Dummy Rounds for Rust,” Kenney stated in a statement to The Times in November. “Consistent with the safe industry standards, PDQ did not provide Live Ammunition to Rust.”

Neither Kenney nor his attorney was immediately available for comment Wednesday. The lawsuit was filed as Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Investigators continue to investigate the incident that raised concerns about safety on film sets.

Deputies have been scrutinizing the actions of Baldwin — the star and producer who fired the prop gun during a rehearsal — as well as assistant director David Halls, who was in charge of safety on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set; and Gutierrez Reed, the production’s 24-year-old armorer, who was responsible for the guns, ammunition and gun safety.

Gutierrez Reed previously told sheriff’s detectives that while she checked Baldwin’s gun that day before the unscheduled rehearsal, she “didn’t really check it too much,” because the weapon had been locked in a safe during a lunch break, according to an Nov. 30 affidavit filed by a sheriff’s detective. Gutierrez Reed claimed that she didn’t hand Baldwin the gun after her lunch break as it is a standard practice and she wasn’t aware she would be using the gun in a rehearsal.

Instead, she presented the gun to Halls, who told investigators he did not check all the rounds in the gun before it was handed to Baldwin.

The suit paints Gutierrez Reed as a low-level worker who was to be paid $7,500 for performing two jobs on “Rust” as the armorer in charge of weapons on the gun-heavy film and as assistant to the prop master. The lawsuit suggested that Gutierrez Reed’s father was a well-known Hollywood armorer. Kenney worked with Thell Reed on another western filmed last summer in Texas, and during that production, Kenney asked Thell Reed to bring live ammunition so they could take actors on that film, “1883,” to a firing range and show them how it felt to fire a vintage gun.

Reed had previously stated to investigators that Kenney brought his ammunition back to New Mexico. The can contained 200 to 300 live rounds of ammunition, according to the suit. Santa Fe Sheriff’s Deputies searched Kenney’s PDQ Shop in Albuquerque, on Nov. 30.

The lawsuit alleges without documentation that Kenney and PDQ Arm & Prop then provided some of the ammunition to “Rust” in a box labeled “45 Colt Dummies” even though “the contents contained both dummy and live ammunition,” the suit said.

“These false representations caused live rounds to be introduced on set, resulting in a foreseeably catastrophic outcome, and causing damages to persons on the Rust set.”

According to the lawsuit, Gutierrez Reed was surprised to find a full box of ammunition sitting atop her equipment bag in the prop truck when she arrived for work around 6: 30 a.m. “Hannah exclaimed words to the effect of ‘What is this?’ We have been looking for a full box of dummy rounds for weeks! According to the suit, “Where did this come from?”

The Times reported previously that Sarah Zachry, property master, told a friend that she was puzzled by the discovery of a new ammunition box in the hours following the shooting. Kenney said

Zachry was the PDQ’s firearms representative for “Rust”.

At 10 a.m. Zachry, Gutierrez Reed and a prop assistant loaded five rounds into Baldwin’s gun and two other guns using bullets from the box that been found in prop truck that morning, according to the lawsuit.

Gutierrez Reed believed that the box contained only dummy rounds and tried to load a sixth bullet but it stuck. Baldwin was responsible for the five rounds and continued to use the gun throughout the day.

After lunch Gutierrez Reed cleaned Baldwin’s gun chamber and then “pulled another cartridge from the dummybox, shook the it, and put it in the chamber,” according to the suit. The lawsuit claims that the guns were protected by the film’s props division, but not the ammunition.

“Throughout production on the Rust set, prior to the shooting, the prop truck was virtually always left unlocked and accessible by anyone,” the suit said. It also stated that the prop truck was not searched by sheriff’s officers until six days after the shooting.

Will Waggoner was Zachry’s lawyer. He claimed that there were many inaccuracies in his client’s portrayal in the lawsuit.

“Did PDQ do something wrong? They may have. Waggoner stated that my client did not.

Gutierrez Reed’s lead attorney Jason Bowles has suggested previously that “sabotage” was possible on set — but he did not provide evidence.

The lawsuit combines a number of events that took place before and after the fatal shooting. It also includes Kenney’s interactions between Reed and one Reed’s friend. It also included a text message in the which Kenney reacted to Bowles’ “sabotage” claims.

“I have nothing to gain by Hannah and her Attorneys forcing me into this,” Kenney wrote to Thell Reed in a text message. “If anything, the DA might perceive this as an unapologetic scapegoat tactic to lower the boom and make it even more difficult. You and I will be collateral damage in this tragedy and approach, it makes no sense.”

After the shooting, according to the lawsuit, Kenney encouraged Guttierez Reed to cooperate with the police and to “implicate AD Halls as being the person responsible for the tragedy,” the lawsuit said.

“You’re young, certainly not green or inexperienced with period weapons but did you get rolled over by the set system and the AD w/30+ years of experience?” Kenney wrote in one text message to Gutierrez Reed, which was copied in the lawsuit. “I believe you did. You’re too proud to admit that. Had you been partnered up with a truly professional AD none of this would’ve happened.”

Staff writer Julia Wick contributed to this report.

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