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‘Rust’ shooting: Armorer likely hungover when she loaded gun, prosecutors say

Prosecutors said the armorer in charge of ensuring gun safety on the set of the movie “Rust” was likely hungover when she loaded a live bullet into a prop gun in 2021 before the shooting that claimed the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

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Authorities made the claim in response to a motion filed last month by Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys seeking the dismissal of the involuntary manslaughter charge filed against her.

Prosecutors said they had witnesses who will testify that “Gutierrez was drinking heavily and smoking marijuana in the evenings during the shooting of Rust.” They added, “It is likely that … Gutierrez was hung over when she inserted a live bullet into a gun that she knew was going to be used at some point by an actor while filming a shooting scene with other actors and crew members.”

Gutierrez-Reed has denied any wrongdoing, with her attorneys earlier saying that she was focused on safety and that she never saw anyone fire live rounds with the revolver at the center of the case.

“The case is so weak that they now have chosen to resort to character assassination claims about Hannah,” attorney Jason Bowles told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “The prosecution has abandoned the idea of doing justice and getting to the actual truth apparently.”

Authorities said actor Alec Baldwin was holding a gun on Oct. 21, 2021, while Hutchins was setting up a scene for “Rust” when it fired, shooting a bullet that hit and killed Hutchins and injured the movie’s director, Joel Souza. In January, authorities charged Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed with involuntary manslaughter, though charges against Baldwin were later dropped.

Last week, prosecutors said they were looking at the possibility that the gun malfunctioned, which “significantly effects causation with regard to Baldwin, not with regard to Gutierrez.”

“If it is determined that the gun did not malfunction, charges against Mr. Baldwin will proceed,” they said. Authorities expect to make a final decision on whether to charge Baldwin within the next 60 days.

It remained unclear Wednesday how the live round that killed Hutchins got onto the set of “Rust.” Prosecutors suggested last week that Gutierrez-Read might have introduced the live rounds to the set herself and said that more charges could be filed if so.

Gutierrez-Reed is expected to appear for a preliminary hearing in August at which a judge will hear the evidence to determine whether there is enough probable cause to proceed with the prosecution.

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