In October 2021, during the filming of the movie ‘Rust’, Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that held live rounds, resulting in the death of the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. After over a year since the incident, on January 19, 2023, Baldwin was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, to which he pleaded not guilty on February 23, 2023. In addition, the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is being investigated in connection to the cinematographer’s tragic death.
On February 20, 2023, the charges against Baldwin were downgraded, with the firearm enhancement being removed, resulting in a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. However, three Rust crew members, Ross Addiego, Doran Curtin, and Reese Price, filed a lawsuit against Baldwin, claiming that they suffered emotional distress after the incident, were asked to “assist” after the injuries, and the film’s armorer lacked essential experience. They are seeking unspecified damages.
The movie Rust is being produced by Alec Baldwin and stars him alongside actors such as Jensen Ackles, Travis Fimmel, and Frances Fisher. During filming in New Mexico, Alec fired the gun which caused Halyna’s death, and Joel Souza, the film’s director, sustained injuries but survived. After the incident, Baldwin released a statement expressing his shock and sadness and stated that he was fully cooperating with the authorities’ investigation.
Baldwin’s conditional release requires him not to possess any firearms, not consume alcohol, and have no contact with any potential witnesses unless related to filming the movie. Hannah’s hearing is set to continue on February 24, 2023.
The Lawsuit Against Alec Baldwin
On Feb. 27, 2023, three Rust crewmembers filed a lawsuit against Alec Baldwin, as reported by TMZ. The three crew members, Ross Addiego, Doran Curtin, and Reese Price, are suing the film’s producer for being “3 of 7 people on the church set the day the shooting happened.” They alleged that the movie’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, “lacked essential experience,” and that they were asked to “assist” after Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza were injured. The crewmembers are suing for “negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress” and are asking for “unspecified damages.” The lawsuit comes just days after Baldwin pleaded not guilty to the charges of involuntary manslaughter.
The Role of the Film’s Armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed
The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is also under investigation in connection to the shooting. As an armorer, Gutierrez-Reed is responsible for handling and maintaining all weapons on set, including prop guns. According to reports, the prop gun that was used in the shooting had been inspected and cleared by Gutierrez-Reed before it was handed to Baldwin. However, investigators have raised questions about her experience and qualifications for the job.
Gutierrez-Reed was just 24 years old at the time of the shooting and had limited experience as an armorer. In an interview with The New York Times, she described herself as a “rookie” and acknowledged that she had never worked as a lead armorer on a film set before Rust. She also said that she had completed a three-week armorer training course earlier in the year and that she had spent time shadowing experienced armorers on other film sets.
The investigation into Gutierrez-Reed’s role in the shooting is ongoing. If she is found to have been negligent in her duties as the film’s armorer, she could also face criminal charges.
The Impact of the Shooting on the Film Industry
The tragic shooting on the set of Rust has had a significant impact on the film industry, particularly when it comes to the use of prop guns. In the wake of the shooting, several productions have implemented new safety measures and protocols to ensure that incidents like this do not happen again.
One of the most notable changes has been a move away from the use of live ammunition on film sets. Previously, some productions used live rounds in prop guns to create realistic muzzle flashes and sound effects. However, in the wake of the Rust shooting, many have argued that the risks associated with live rounds far outweigh any potential benefits. As a result, more productions are now using non-firing replicas or blank rounds to create the same effects.
The Rust shooting has also prompted a broader conversation about safety on film sets. Many in the industry have called for increased regulation and oversight when it comes to the use of firearms and other potentially dangerous props. Some have suggested that a centralized database of qualified armorers and other crew members could help prevent inexperienced or unqualified individuals from working on film sets.
The shooting on the set of Rust was a tragedy that has had a profound impact on all those involved, as well as the wider film industry. As the criminal case against Alec Baldwin moves forward, it remains to be seen what consequences he may face for his role in the incident. The lawsuit filed by the three Rust crew members against Baldwin highlights the complex legal landscape surrounding the case.
The shooting has also raised important questions about safety on film sets and the use of potentially dangerous props like firearms. As the industry continues to grapple with these issues, it is clear that significant changes are needed to ensure that incidents like this never happen again.