UPDATED with statement from Hannah Gutierrez-Reed) Santa Fe police may be a step closer to discovering where the live round fired last month by Alec Baldwin that killed Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins came from.
In a fourth search warrant approved by a New Mexico judge, detectives on Tuesday revealed that armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s father Thell Reed reached out to them November 15 to tell them about possibly hundreds of rounds of live ammunition that Rust “armorer mentor” Seth Kenney took from him earlier this year. Kenney told the elder Reed to “write it off” when the veteran armorer and stuntman repeatedly inquired about the rounds.
In two conversations with the Sheriff’s Office, the elder Reed revealed that he brought the “approximately 200-300 rounds in the can …described the can to be green in color and looked like a military ammo can” to a “firearms range” to help train actors on another production with Kenney.
Thell Reed told the police earlier this month “this ammunition may match the ammunition found on the set of Rust.”
Seen as one of the best in the business, the elder Reed has been a weapons consultant and armorer on films including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Cowboys & Aliens, 3:10 to Yuma, Grindhouse and many others over the decades. That experience is among the reasons the police are acting on his tip.
“Affiant is requesting a search warrant be approved for the business of PDQ Arm & Prop, LLC, in attempt to search for any items of evidentiary value that will help with the ongoing investigation in relation to the death of Halyna Hutching (sic) on the set of Rust, filmed at the Bonanza Creek Ranch,” requests the affidavit from Detective Alexandria Hancock (read it here).
The search warrant permits detectives to search the the Albuquerque-based business and seize property deemed relevant to the investigation. The company, located in a strip mall, is owned by Kenney.
According to Gutierrez-Reed, as stated in today’s warrant, Kenney “supplied the ammunition and weapons to the set of Rust.” The document goes on to say that “Affiant learned the firearms and ammunition were picked up either from Hannah or Sarah (Zachery, prop master) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at PDQ Arm and Prop, LLC.
Police spoke with Zachery in the immediate aftermath of the October 21 shooting, when the crew member said that “ammunition for Rust was provided from various sources, to include Seth Kenney, some Hannah brought from a previous production, and extra rounds from an individual identified as ‘Billy Ray.’”
Previous search warrants executed by the police at the Bonanza Creek Ranch have found a number of weapons and, according to Sheriff Adan Mendoza, “500 rounds of ammunition … a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting are live rounds.”
There are no details in today’s documents about who “Billy Ray” is. However, there is an growing amount of info on Kenney, who was brought on board the $7 million indie Western to back up the relative newbie Gutierrez-Reed
Named as a defendant in the two lawsuits that have already been filed in the Rust tragedy, weapons specialist Kenney has emerged as a pivotal figure in the cops’ probe, along with armorer Gutierrez-Reed and First Assistant Director Dave Halls. Like star-producer Baldwin, both Gutierrez-Reed and Halls have hired defense lawyers as the move towards the courts speeds up.
In an October 29 “call” with police, Kenney floated a theory of “reloaded ammunition” that “a friend” had given him a few years ago. The ammo in question had a particular logo on it of “a star, an arch, and then another star” matching that of big dealer Starline Brass. “He described how the company only sells components of ammunition, and not live ammunition, therefore it had to be a reloaded round,” the seven-page warrant notes.
The latest warrant also notes more details form Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office sit-downs with Gutierrez-Reed following the fatal shooting at the Bonanza Creek Ranch location more than five weeks ago. Specifically, while laying out how the guns on set were handled and stored that terrible day, Gutierrez-Reed “stated the guns were checked on set, however she ‘didn’t really check it too much’ (the firearm), due to it being locked up at lunch.”
Kept out of the church location frequently due to what she told detectives were “COVID precautions,” the armorer previously laid out how she handed the 1880s-era gun to Halls, who then took it inside and gave it to Baldwin after exclaiming “cold gun.” Practicing a “quick draw” move during rehearsal, Baldwin pulled the trigger, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
Along with several members of the camera crew resigning in writing over financial and safety concerns mere hours before the shooting, there were at least two other incidents of weapons mistakenly discharging on the Rust set before the fatal shooting, as props assistant/armorer Gutierrez-Reed and others have confirmed.
Halls has admitted to the Sheriff’s Office that he did not properly check the weapon in question before giving it to Baldwin. As Deadline reported on October 25, Halls was fired from a previous film because of gun safety lapses and was not rehired over personal misconduct complaints on a 2019 Blumhouse TV project.
Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer have been talking up a “sabotage” theory in the media to explain the shooting that took Hutchins’ life. Discredited by the Santa Fe DA, the theory is based on the premise that something underhanded may have been connected to the mass camera crew exit earlier that day.
Today, the armorer’s lawyer released a statement from their client on the latest twist in the investigation with her father’s tip and the new search warrant:
The Sheriff’s Office has taken a huge step forward today to unearth the full truth of who put the live rounds on the Rust set, by executing a search warrant on PDQ Arm & Prop, owned by Armorer-Mentor, Seth Kenney. 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. In keeping with the early findings and concerns of our own internal investigation, which were echoed by a detailed report in the LA Times, we also hope that there will be further investigation into the important detail about a new ammunition box seen on set the day of the shooting. The questions of who introduced the live rounds onto the set and why are the central questions in the case. Today’s warrant is a major step towards answering those questions and we commend the Sheriff’s Office and their lead investigator on their continuing tireless work to find the truth.
As the lawsuits pile up, the Hutchins family has retained its own attorneys (who specialize in wrongful death) and the police probe continues. No one has been arrested or charged over the Rust shooting.