After ‘Rust’ shooting, investigators search Albuquerque weapons provider
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office released new documents Tuesday that shed more light on how live ammunition may have gotten on the set of the Alec Baldwin western “Rust” and then loaded into a Colt .45 single-action revolver before the fatal shooting.
“Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed told sheriff’s investigators that she had trouble loading the weapon on Oct. 21, just hours before Baldwin fired a live round that killed the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injured the director, Joel Souza, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.
“Hannah stated there was one round that wouldn’t go in, so after lunch she took the cleaner, cleaned ‘it’ out, and put another round in, which brought the total to six rounds loaded into the weapon,” Sheriff’s Det. Alexandria Hancock wrote in the affidavit.
Gutierrez Reed’s lawyer has said that the 24-year-old armorer didn’t realize that any of the rounds were live bullets. Live ammunition is not allowed on film sets.
When asked by investigators who supplied ammunition for the guns, Gutierrez Reed identified weapons provider Seth Kenney, according to the affidavit. Another New Mexico armorer, Billy Ray, was also named in the documents as a potential source for “additional rounds” of ammunition that were used during the 12 days of filming.
On Tuesday, a judge authorized a search of Kenney’s PDQ Arm & Prop LLC in Albuquerque. Among the items to be seized were documentation in relation to “Rust,” gun cleaning equipment, ammunition containing the Starline Brass logo “for evidence comparison” and any surveillance video from his shop, according to the affidavit.
Kenney told a detective on Oct. 29 that “he may know where the live rounds came from,” adding that a couple of years ago, he received “reloaded ammunition” from a friend. He said the ammunition “stuck out to him, due to the suspected live round to have a cartridge with the Starline Brass logo on it,” according to the affidavit.
A manager at Sedalia, Missouri-based Starline Brass said the company only makes cartridge cases and has never manufactured loaded ammunition.
“We sell our products to companies that use them to produce ammunition, blanks, and dummy rounds,” wrote Starline Brass Sales Manager Matt Reams in an email. “So even though a live round may have had our name on the headstamp, we did not produce the live ammunition.”
Gutierrez Reed’s father, Thell Reed, a noted weapons expert on Hollywood films, told a detective on Nov. 15 that he had worked on a previous production with Kenney in August or September. He said they had provided training for the actors at a firing range, the affidavit stated.
Thell Reed said that Kenney had requested that Reed bring live ammunition “in the event that they ran out of what was supplied,” the affidavit said.
Reed said he brought an “ammo can” with live ammunition with 200 to 300 rounds, including ammunition that was not factory-made. Reed told the investigators that Kenney returned to New Mexico with the can that still contained .45-caliber Colt ammunition. Despite Reed’s attempts to get the can of ammunition back, Kenney told him to “write it off,” Reed told the detective.
How an armorer and a prop master with scant experience wound up in the middle of the Alec Baldwin “Rust” tragedy.
“Thell stated this ammunition may match the ammunition found on the set of ‘Rust,’” the affidavit said.
Tuesday’s search warrant — the fourth that sheriff’s investigators have sought during their investigation of the shooting — was needed to search Kenney’s office in Albuquerque, about 50 miles south of the Santa Fe set of “Rust.”
The new documents said that Kenney was present at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set on Oct. 27 during a law enforcement search. Kenney was needed because he had the code to a gun safe in the prop truck, according to the affidavit.
During the search, Kenney discussed with Hancock the type of ammunition he provided. “Seth advised the ammo included dummy rounds and blanks. He said how the ammunition he provides to the productions are from a manufacture (sic) identified as Starline Brass.”
Kenney was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
His attorney, Adam Engelskirchen, said in a statement that Kenney and PDQ Arm & Prop were “fully cooperating with the authorities, as they have been since the tragic incident took place. Neither Mr. Kenney nor PDQ Media Arm & Prop, LLC provided live ammunition to the Rust production.”
In addition, Engelskirchen alleged the search warrant affidavit “includes material misstatements of fact, particularly with regard to statements ascribed to Mr. Kenney.” Engelskirchen did not elaborate.
A production office crew list viewed by the Los Angeles Times identifies Kenney as the film’s “armorer mentor,” but Kenney has told The Times that he did not fill that role and producers had erroneously classified him.
“Seth Kenney was not the ‘Armorer Mentor’ nor did he hold any other position or capacity with ‘Rust,’ and prior to the tragedy had never been to set or the production office,” according to a statement that Kenney provided to The Times on Nov. 19.
During her interviews with investigators, Gutierrez Reed said that, after lunch, she and the film’s property master, Sarah Zachry, carried the guns, wrapped in bags that looked like “socks,” to the set to be used that afternoon during filming.
Gutierrez Reed said that, while the guns were checked on set, “she didn’t really check [the firearm] too much” because it had been locked in a safe during lunch. After she did a quick check, the affidavit said, “she put in the last round.”
Times staff writer Julia Wick contributed to this report.
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