The weapons expert who supplied firearms for use on the movie “Rust” told investigators he believed he knew how live rounds got mixed in with dummy rounds, according to an affidavit released on Tuesday.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating the cause of the shooting on the set of the film on Oct. 21, in which actor Alec Baldwin fired a shot that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded the film’s director, Joel Souza. Detectives have focused on the question of how live rounds — which ordinarily would be forbidden anywhere near a movie set — came to be mixed with the dummy rounds.
Seth Kenney, the weapons expert who supplied the guns for the film, told investigators on Oct. 29 that he had received “reloaded ammunition” from a friend that had the same logo as the dummy rounds and blanks that he typically supplies to films.
“Seth described how a couple years back, he received ‘reloaded ammunition’ from a friend,'” the investigators wrote in the search warrant affidavit. “Seth described the ammunition stuck out to him due to the suspected live round to have (sic) a cartridge with the Starline Brass logo on it… He described how the company only sells components of ammunition, and not live ammunition, and therefore it had to be a reloaded round.”
Reloading refers to making a new round with a case that has already been fired.
The search warrant affidavit also includes new details from interviews with Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the 24-year-old armorer on the film, as well as her father, veteran film armorer Thell Reed, and the film’s prop master, Sarah Zachry.
Gutierrez Reed described loading the revolver with five dummy rounds before lunch on Oct. 21. She said the sixth round would not fit in the gun, so after lunch she cleaned it out and then was able to load it. She said she “didn’t really check it too much” before loading the final bullet because the gun had been locked up during lunch.
In previous affidavits, investigators have revealed that Dave Halls, the first assistant director, acknowledged that he did not thoroughly check the revolver before handing it to Baldwin.
Gutierrez Reed said she was outside the church when she heard the gunshot, and then heard people calling for a medic.
“We had the gun the whole time before that, and nothing happened, and I wasn’t in there, and they weren’t even supposed to be pulling the hammer back,” she told investigators.
Gutierrez Reed was “very emotional” when deputies arrived on the scene, according to an incident report released Tuesday. A deputy advised she was not under arrest, had her sit in a squad car, and asked for medical personnel to attend to her, according to the report.
Her father, Thell Reed, provided a statement to investigators on Nov. 15, and gave a follow-up interview on Nov. 17. He offered his own theory on the origin of the live rounds. In his telling, he and Kenney worked together on another project in August or September, where they provided live fire training for actors on a firing range. Kenney asked Reed to bring some live rounds in case they ran out of ammunition.
Reed brought a can that included live ammo, and after the training, Kenney took the rounds home, according to the affidavit. Reed said he made several attempts to get the ammunition back from Kenney, but that Kenney told him to “write it off.” The can included .45-caliber rounds, and Reed suggested they might match the rounds found on the set of “Rust.”
In her interview, Zachry told investigators that after the shooting she checked the box of .45 caliber rounds that was on the prop cart, and that had been used to load the weapon. She found that some of the cartridges rattled when she shook them, indicating they were dummy rounds, but that some did not, leading her to believe they were also live rounds.
Zachry told investigators that the ammunition came from several sources, including Kenney and a man named “Billy Ray.” She said that Gutierrez Reed also brought some ammunition left over from a previous project.
Investigators obtained a warrant to search Kenney’s company, PDQ Arm & Prop, LLC, at its location at a strip mall in Albuquerque. The warrant authorizes investigators to seize documentation and any ammunition with the Starline Brass logo.
Juan Rios, a spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, said the case will be presented to the D.A.’s office once it is completed.
An attorney for Gutierrez Reed, Jason Bowles, called the search warrant “a huge step forward today to unearth the full truth of who put the live rounds on the ‘Rust’ set.” Bowles had previously suggested that the rounds could have been placed by a disgruntled crew member in order to “sabotage” the set.
“We trust that the FBI will now compare and analyze the ‘live rounds’ seized from the set to evidence seized in the search warrant to conclusively determine where the live rounds came from,” Bowles said.
Update, 1:52 p.m. Wednesday: Investigators executed the search at PDQ Arm & Prop, and retrieved .45-caliber ammunition (including suspected live ammunition), an ammo can, photographs and “Rust documents,” according to a search warrant return.