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In October, a horrific tragedy occurred in New Mexico on the set of “Rust” – cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died after a gun that actor Alec Baldwin was holding discharged and a live projectile fatally hit the rising star.
With an investigation still underway, lawsuits mounting and questions unanswered, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies is speaking out.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, which describes the tragic incident as “an event cascade” with “each incident contributing to the moment that claimed [Hutchins’s] life,” Carmack-Altwies “already sees that Hutchins’s death was caused not by a single action but by numerous failures and mistakes.”
Here’s a look at those factors, according to Vanity Fair, which notes that the former public defender has yet to file charges “and won’t know for several more months if she will.”‘
1. Armorer hiring
Veteran prop master Neal W. Zoromski detailed why he turned down the opportunity to work on the movie “Rust” when he found “warning signs” ahead of filming. Among the alleged reasons, according to Vanity Fair: “the production lowballed him,” “they were rushing things,” and there were two prop assistants but no separate armorer, which Zoromski described as the “dealbreaker.”
“This was the dealbreaker, when they wanted to compress the responsibilities of these two positions,” he said.
The armorer job ultimately went to Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who has since echoed Zoromski’s claims, alleging she held a second role as the prop master’s assistant.
2. Sabotage on the set?
In her Vanity Fair interview, Carmack-Altwies told the publication that regarding claims of sabotage – and that some scorned members of the crew had allegedly been swapping real bullets into the prop weapons for leisurely target practice in their downtime – she stated that she has “not heard anything yet that that actually occurred.”
“The notion that there’s sabotage — I mean, there is not one iota of evidence at this point,” Carmack-Altwies added.
Meanwhile, Carmack-Altweis “hopes the upcoming FBI lab report on those materials will help resolve the chain of custody,” Vanity Fair says.
It was previously reported that Gutierrez-Reed has sued Seth Kenney, the man who provided the prop ammunition used by the production team. Gutierrez-Reed’s lawsuit accuses Kenney’s prop company, PDQ Arm & Prop, of providing a mix of dummy and live rounds to the set, creating a “dangerous condition.”
A separate lawsuit, stemming from the on-set medic, which also dove into Kenney’s recent background, claimed that he and Gutierrez Reed’s father Thell Reed had recently worked together on a film. The suit alleged that Thell provided Kenney with “reloaded rounds” or “live rounds that are created using empty casings.”
According to the docs, Thell requested that Kenney return the rounds, but that Kenney “retained possession” of the ammunition.
Meanwhile, Kenney told authorities he had received “reloaded ammunition” that had a logo matching dummy and blank ammunition he provides to films, but later denied that the live round on the set of “Rust” could have come from his prop company.
“It’s not a possibility that they came from PDQ or from myself personally,” Kenney previously told ABC News.
Vanity Fair also noted that Sarah Zachry, the lead prop master, told investigators she believed “the ammunition for ‘Rust’ was provided from various sources.” These sources, per the outlet, included Kenney, Guitierrez-Reed and another individual known as “Billy Ray.”
3. Bullet being loaded into gun
As Vanity Fair puts it, Gutierrez-Reed “was responsible for prepping the vintage Colt. 45” and “there is little to no dispute about that.” However, the outlet says Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney “insists she was a conscientious worker” who was “overwhelmed by the demands and chaos of a poorly run set.”
Per Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, after lunch she went back to the prop truck’s safe to retrieve the firearm and “fix that empty sixth slot,” but at the same time “he says she was being urgently summoned to set over her radio,” Vanity Fair writes.
“She thought it had rattled, but at the same time, people are screaming in her earpiece, ‘Get the gun, get the gun.’ But she thought it had rattled,” her lawyer Jason Bowles described to the outlet.
Bowles also gave examples where Gutierrez-Reed was getting “mixed messages” from production, Vanity Fair writes, as well as shared instances in which she was praised for her work, once by director Joel Souza who was wounded in the incident.
“It wasn’t that she was inexperienced. It was that production had her doing two different jobs,” Bowles said.
4. Safety inspections
When it came to who handed the firearm to Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Halls have different accounts. “Her attorneys say she handed the weapon to Halls and left the church,” per the outlet, while Lisa Torraco, who is representing Halls, claims the armorer, herself, handed “the weapon directly to” Baldwin.
“He wasn’t distracted and he wasn’t under duress and he didn’t overlook anything,” Torraco said via Vanity Fair. “He did his job the way he was told and taught to do his job. He relied on other people to do their job because they’re professionals as well.”
Following the incident, former colleagues of Halls complained about his work as did Gutierrez-Reed’s.
5. Gun discharged
Baldwin, who also served as a producer on the film, would go on to say in a December 2021 sit-down interview that he did not pull the trigger.
Carmack-Altwies said Baldwin’s adamancy that he did not fire the weapon came as a surprise to her when she watched the interview.
“I didn’t know too much about guns, certainly not about 1850s-era revolvers. So when I first heard that, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s crazy,’” she told Vanity Fair.
Since Baldwin claimed he only pulled back the hammer on the old revolver, Carmack-Altwies said she suggested to one of her investigators that he bring into the office his own period-era revolver for a crash course in education and firearms inspection.
“One of the investigators in my office happens to have a very old type revolver, and so he brought it, at my request, so that we could look at it and see if that was at all possible,” she told the outlet, adding that the room was cleared and two independent inspectors looked over the weapon — one who supplied the piece and another who verified it was empty.
“Then they visually showed me you can pull the hammer back without actually pulling the trigger and without actually locking it,” Carmack-Altwies explained. “So you pull it back part way, it doesn’t lock, and then if you let it go, the firing pin can hit the primer of the bullet.”
Per Vanity Fair, “what the district attorney does with that information will become clearer as the year progresses.”
The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department has said it is awaiting results from the FBI that would shed light on how the gun could have been fired, whether that was just pulling back the hammer — which hits the firing pin — just pulling the trigger or both.
Fox News Digital’s Julius Young and Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.