Rust shooting: New bombshells in Alec Baldwin set tragedy, crew members David Halls, Hannah Gutierrez under spotlight

  • 25/10/2021

Complaints had been made in the past about the assistant director who handed actor Alec Baldwin the gun which then struck cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a live round on the set of Rust, it has emerged.

Law enforcement officials are investigating the fatal shooting, with court records showing the probe includes the movie's assistant director David Halls and armourer Hannah Gutierrez.

Halls, 62, grabbed one of the prop guns off the cart and took it inside to Baldwin, yelling "cold gun", which on movie sets means the gun is not loaded with ammunition, including blanks, according to the detective's affidavit.

He did not know live rounds were in the prop gun when he handed it to the actor, the affidavit said.

On Sunday, NBC News and CNN quoted a Hollywood prop maker, Maggie Goll, as saying she had raised safety concerns about Halls when they worked together on Hulu's Into the Dark television series in 2019.

"He did not maintain a safe working environment," Goll told NBC News. "Sets were almost always allowed to become increasingly claustrophobic, no established fire lanes, exits blocked ... safety meetings were nonexistent."

Goll claimed Halls failed to announce the presence of a firearm on set to the crew, which is protocol.

"The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon's presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day," Goll said.

"The Prop Master frequently admonished Dave for dismissing the talent without returning props, weapon included, or failing to make safety announcements."

Goll also levelled accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour on set at Walls, saying she was told by another crew member to "watch out" for him, saying he was too physically familiar with the crew.

"Nothing too extreme, but crew members of all genders and dispositions were being made uncomfortable by Dave's touches to their backs, waists, shoulders, etc."

Film producer Aaron B Koontz, who worked with Halls on two previous movies but was not involved in the making of Rust, told the Los Angeles Times that Halls was "extremely efficient" and a good manager.

An experienced Hollywood hand with credits on movies including Fargo in 1996, and 2003's The Matrix Reloaded, Halls is also an actor. He did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

Hannah Gutierrez 

Gutierrez, also under investigation over the shooting, was working as the armourer, or person in charge of firearms.

According to an affidavit filed by a Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office detective, she prepared three prop guns and placed them on a cart outside the building where rehearsals were taking place.

After the fatal shooting, Gutierrez was given the gun and removed a spent casing before handing it to arriving deputies, according to the affidavit.

Just a month before Thursday's accident, she had spoken about how she had been worried her inexperience meant she was not up to the job when she began her first movie as head armourer earlier this year - the Western The Old Way starring Nicolas Cage, which is scheduled for release next year.

"I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly," Gutierrez told the Voices of the West podcast about Western films.

The Daily Beast claims concerns about Gutierrez had been raised on the set of The Old Way, with a source saying she gave a gun to an 11-year-old without checking it properly. 

"She was a bit careless with the guns, waving it around every now and again," the source said.

Gutierrez followed in the steps of her father Thell Reed, a well-known Hollywood armorer. According to his biography on film database, Reed began competition shooting as a boy, performed in Wild West shows, and taught gun-handling to actors including Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt.

Gutierrez could not be reached for comment.