‘Rust’ Armorer Convicted of Manslaughter in Alec Baldwin Shooting

‘Rust’ Armorer Convicted of Manslaughter in Alec Baldwin Shooting

The armorer responsible for loading a live round into the gun Alec Baldwin was handling during a rehearsal for the film “Rust,” resulting in the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s conviction is a significant milestone, marking the first judicial assessment by a jury regarding the fatal shooting incident. Following the verdict, prosecutors requested Gutierrez-Reed’s immediate custody, a request granted by Judge Mary L. Marlowe Sommer. While escorted out of the courtroom, Gutierrez-Reed was not handcuffed. She now faces a potential prison sentence of up to 18 months.

Alec Baldwin, too, faces an involuntary manslaughter charge and is slated for trial in July. Baldwin has maintained his innocence, arguing that he was misled regarding the presence of live rounds on the set and should not be held responsible.

Gutierrez-Reed’s trial, which unfolded over two weeks at the First Judicial District Courthouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico, focused on her failure to load Baldwin’s revolver with dummy rounds, which are intended for use in filming but cannot be fired. Despite protocols, a live round found its way into the gun, leading to the fatal incident on October 21, 2021, in a wooden church where filming was taking place. The shooting raised questions within the film industry about safety procedures on sets where live ammunition is strictly prohibited.

Prosecutors presented evidence suggesting a pattern of negligence on Gutierrez-Reed’s part, highlighting instances where she left weapon-related equipment in disarray and failed to promptly secure firearms after scenes. The jury deliberated for two and a half hours before delivering a guilty verdict, emphasizing Gutierrez-Reed’s failure to adhere to basic gun safety protocols.

Throughout the trial, discussions revolved around the handling of firearms on the “Rust” set, with demonstrations of gun operation and scrutiny of Gutierrez-Reed’s actions. Prosecutors alleged that Gutierrez-Reed introduced live rounds onto the set, suggesting her culpability in the tragic outcome. However, Gutierrez-Reed denied being the source of the live ammunition, attributing errors to production pressures and her limited authority.

The jury found Gutierrez-Reed not guilty of evidence tampering charges related to an incident involving another crew member. However, to convict her of involuntary manslaughter, jurors had to unanimously agree on her willful disregard for safety, a decision underscored by prosecutors’ arguments of negligence throughout the trial.

Gutierrez-Reed’s defense emphasized her lack of awareness regarding the presence of live ammunition and pointed out flaws in the investigation. They argued that she bore no criminal responsibility for unforeseeable events and suggested she was made a scapegoat for broader production failures. Despite the guilty verdict, Gutierrez-Reed’s legal team plans to appeal, expressing disappointment with the trial’s outcome.