Armorer convicted in deadly ‘Rust’ movie shooting by jury

New Mexico Jury Finds Armorer Guilty in Fatal ‘Rust’ Shooting

SANTA FE, New Mexico—In a landmark decision, a New Mexico jury has found “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez guilty of involuntary manslaughter following a trial that delved into the circumstances surrounding Hollywood’s first on-set fatal shooting in almost three decades.

The trial, which lasted for ten days, focused on whether Gutierrez’s handling and supervision of firearms on the low-budget production set in New Mexico posed a danger to her fellow crew and cast members.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ordered Gutierrez to be taken into custody immediately, where she faces a potential 18 months in state prison. As she was led away by deputies, Gutierrez reassured her distraught mother, saying, “I’ll be okay.”

The jury deliberated for just three hours before reaching their decision, acquitting Gutierrez on a second charge of evidence tampering.

The fatal incident occurred when, on October 21, 2021, Gutierrez mistakenly loaded a live round into a reproduction Colt .45 revolver that actor Alec Baldwin was handling on the movie set. The gun fired a live bullet, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. Baldwin has maintained that he did not pull the trigger and his own manslaughter trial is scheduled for July 10.

During the trial, state special prosecutor Kari Morrissey emphasized the safety failures that led to the tragic outcome. Gutierrez’s lawyer, Jason Bowles, expressed intent to appeal the decision, arguing that the evidence against his client was insufficient and based on speculation.

Bowles also highlighted that the movie’s production company had cut costs by having Gutierrez fulfill the roles of both armorer and props assistant, while a movie-set firearms safety expert testified that additional armorers were needed on the set.

The trial saw a clash between state prosecutors and defense lawyers over the presence of live rounds on the set, strictly prohibited in the industry. Juror Alberto Sanchez shared that the jury believed Gutierrez brought the live rounds onto the set, with circumstantial evidence suggesting she unknowingly transferred them from a previous production.

Despite the verdict, Gutierrez’s lawyer continued to place blame on props supplier Seth Kenney, who was not charged, as the potential source of the live rounds. The defense maintained that Gutierrez did not show “willful disregard” for safety due to her lack of knowledge about the live rounds.

The trial uncovered lapses in safety procedures, with crew members testifying that safety meetings were skipped, Gutierrez failed to check for loaded weapons, and Baldwin breached basic firearms safety rules.

The sentencing marks a significant moment for the industry as it grapples with the implications of the tragic “Rust” shooting and underscores the importance of stringent safety measures on movie sets.

Leave a Reply