Thursday, April 18, 2024

‘Rust’ Armourer Found Guilty Over Deadly On-Set Shooting

The armourer who loaded the gun that killed a cinematographer on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie “Rust” was convicted Wednesday of involuntary manslaughter.

A jury in New Mexico took just over two hours to find Hannah Gutierrez guilty of the death of Halyna Hutchins in October 2021 during the filming of the budget Western.

A 10-day trial heard that Gutierrez had been ultimately responsible for using live rounds on set, a red line across the industry.

The court had also heard how she had repeatedly failed to adhere to basic safety rules, leaving guns unattended and allowing actors — including Baldwin — to wave weapons around.

“This is not a case where Hannah Gutierrez made one mistake and that one mistake was accidentally putting a live round into that gun,” prosecutor Kari Morrissey told the jury in her closing argument Wednesday.

“This case is about constant, never-ending safety failures that resulted in the death of a human being and nearly killed another.”

Hutchins was hit by a live round fired from the Colt .45 that Baldwin was holding for a scene inside a wooden church on the New Mexico set. The same bullet wounded Director Joel Souza.

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Baldwin has repeatedly denied responsibility, insisting he did not pull the trigger.

Ballistics experts have dismissed the claim, saying the gun could not have discharged any other way.

His own involuntary manslaughter trial is expected in July.

The tragedy sent shockwaves through Hollywood and led to calls for a complete ban on the use of weapons on movie sets.

Industry insiders, however, insisted that rules were already in place to prevent such incidents, and that those working on “Rust” had not followed them.

Dave Halls, the film’s safety coordinator and assistant director who handed Baldwin the loaded gun, agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors last year and was sentenced to six months’ probation.

Hutchins’ parents welcomed the verdict against Gutierrez.

“We look forward to the justice system continuing to make sure that everyone else who is responsible for Halyna’s death is required to face the legal consequences for their actions,” they said in a statement released through their Los Angeles-based lawyer.

Filming of “Rust” was halted by the tragedy, but completed last year on location in Montana.

The cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, who has already settled a wrongful death suit with “Rust” producers, served as an executive producer.

No release date has been set for the movie.

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