First Eyewitness Takes the Stand in “Rust” Armorer Trial

A camera aide from the movie set testified about Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s performance; death of cinematographer

The first eyewitness account of Halyna Hutchins’ Oct. 21, 2021, on-set shooting death emerged from the stand Tuesday afternoon in New Mexico’s ongoing case against Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

Ross Addiego, a “dollygrip”—a crew member who helped with camera support—on the Rust set, testified that in his over 30 years in the industry and jobs on a dozen films with an armorer as part of the crew, Gutierrez-Reed “wasn’t necessarily as serious or professional” as others.

“The armorers are usually, for lack of a better description, they are the most uptight…because they literally have people’s lives in their hands. They stick to themselves and focus on the task at hand,” Addiego said. “Most seem to be former military or law enforcement and have some sort of background with firearms.”

He recalled walking past Gutierrez-Reed’s prop cart at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set a number of times and seeing firearms and ammo belts left unattended. He told jurors it seemed “inappropriate and out of the ordinary” that “those firearms weren’t secured.”

Addiego said Gutierrez-Reed sometimes stored loose ammunition in a fanny pack, and noted the set lacked regular safety meetings and protocols typically present for weapons and ammunition on other movie sets.

Prosecutors have argued that Guiterrez-Reed, who faces involuntary manslaughter charges in Hutchins’ death, was negligent in her duty to ensure prop guns and ammunition on the set were safe. Rather than using dummy ammunition as expected, she allegedly loaded live ammo into the gun used by Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal. Baldwin, also a producer on the film, maintains he did not pull the trigger before the weapon discharged.

Addiego also told jurors about several instances in which guns accidentally discharged during the less than two weeks of filming for Rust. By the end of his testimony, he broke into tears as he recounted the day of “rushed chaos” on the set leading up to the shooting. As Baldwin rehearsed pulling the gun out of a holster, he aimed it at Hutchins, who stood behind the camera.

“A firearm went off in a small wooden church,” Addiego said. “The concussion, ears ringing, that moment of panic in everybody—I think the first person I made eye contact with was Halyna, who was clearly injured by whatever that noise was we just heard. In fact, she was starting to go flush and I think holding her right side.”

Two crew members, he said, moved a pew out of the way to lay Hutchins down and start tending to her. Director Joel Souza was also struck by the bullet.

During cross examination, defense attorney Jason Bowles alleged Addiego wanted Gutierrez-Reed’s conviction to help his own lawsuit against the Rust production company and Baldwin. In the civil case, which seeks monetary compensation for damages, the dollygrip—alongside another camera crew member and a costume person—argue the production team failed to follow industry safety protocol.

Bowles asked: “Are you hoping that you can come in here and testify today and something happens to Miss Gutierrez-Reed and it’ll help your lawsuit?”

Addiego answered: “I’m hoping for justice, sir. Two people were injured on a film set. That has not only affected me, that has affected the film industry. Miss Gutierrez-Reed loaded a firearm that killed my friend and injured a director.”

“But you want money. Your lawsuit didn’t say justice,” Bowles replied.

Special Prosecutor Kari Morrissey called Bowles’ behavior “argumentative” in a heated exchange between the attorneys. The state presented four witnesses from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to testify during Monday’s hearing before Addiego took the stand.

On a separate track, First Judicial District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer also Monday scheduled the trial for the state’s case against Baldwin, who is also facing a involuntary manslaughter charge. Jury selection will begin July 9, with the trial expected to last from July 10 through July 19.

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