The person in charge of weapons on the movie set where Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer has spoken out, claiming her role in the incident has been “falsely portrayed”.
Halyna Hutchins, 42, was killed when Baldwin discharged a firearm on the set of western movie Rust.
The film’s director Joel Souza – who was standing behind her – was shot in the shoulder.
Armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24, had set up the gun and two others, according to an affidavit from the Sante Fe County Sheriff’s Office.
In a statement issued through her attorney, Jason Bowles, Ms Gutierrez-Reed said she was “devastated and completely beside herself over the events that transpired”.
“Hannah would like to extend her deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Halyna,” it said.
“She was an inspirational woman in film who Hannah looked up to. She also offers her thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery to Joel.”
However, Mr Bowles said Ms Gutierrez-Reed wanted to “address some untruths” which have “falsely portrayed and slandered” her role in the incident.
The statement continued: “Safety is Hannah’s number one priority on set. Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from.
“Hannah and the prop master gained control over the guns and she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that.
“They were locked up every night and at lunch and there’s no way a single one of them was unaccounted for or being shot by crew members.
“Hannah still, to this day, has never had an accidental discharge.”
After the shooting, Ms Gutierrez-Reed removed a shell casing from the gun and handed it over to the police when they arrived, court records said.
The local district attorney has said criminal charges in the case have not been ruled out.
Ms Gutierrez-Reed also worked as a prop assistant on the film on days where no weapons handling or training took place, sources close to the production of Rust told NBC News.
However, they added she never carried out both positions at the same time.
Mr Bowles’ statement appears to confirm this as it continues: “Hannah was hired on two positions on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armourer.
“She fought for training, days to maintain weapons, and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department.
“The whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings.
The statement added that these factors were “not the fault of Hannah” and that the armourer and her legal team will “address more of these rumours and the whole incident in an upcoming statement next week”
The sources who spoke to NBC News via email said Ms Gutierrez-Reed’s “primary role as the armourer included the four weapons handling training days and the five blanks days, including last Thursday” when the fatal accident took place.
They also said that the set was certified with a number of unions that “experienced producers” were in good standing with.
The sources said: “No one was looking to cut corners or save money. Everything was done according to union guidelines and in full cooperation with unions.
“There were three full set safety meetings had been held since the start of production, including the day of the accident.”
Baldwin, known for his roles in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October, as well as his impressions of former US president Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, has described the killing as a “tragic accident”.
Before taking up the role of armourer on a previous film, Ms Gutierrez-Reed reportedly said she wasn’t sure if she was ready for the position.
Speaking in an interview after completing a role as head armourer for the Nicolas Cage film The Old Way, Ms Gutierrez-Reed said: “I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly.”
She is also said to have admitted she found loading blanks into a gun “the scariest” thing and had sought help from her father, the renowned gunsmith Thell Reed, to overcome her fear.
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