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Lawyers For 'Rust' Film Shoot's Armorer Suggest That Sabotage Caused The Fatal Shooting Of Halyna Hutchins

Two lawyers for the woman responsible for guns on the set of "Rust" have suggested that the presence of live rounds was by design and meant to cause an accident.

By Megan Carpentier
Alec Baldwin Fires Prop Gun On Set, Killing One

The legal representatives for the woman responsible for weapons on the set of the Alec Baldwin film "Rust" have suggested their client is not to blame for last week's shootings and that the presence of deadly armaments was a deliberate act.

Appearing on NBC News' "TODAY" on Wednesday, lawyers Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence once again denied that their client, "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, had done anything wrong before the shooting on the set that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. They also strongly suggested another possibility — someone on set deliberately inserted live rounds into a box of dummy ammunition in an act of sabotage.

"There was a box of dummy rounds; the box is labeled dummy," Bowles explained to host Savannah Guthrie. "Hannah did take from that box, which she by all accounts should have been able to rely on contain[ing] only dummy rounds. She loaded rounds from that box into the handgun only later to find out  — she had no idea, she inspected the rounds — that there was a live round.

Bowles added that it is unclear whether the live round that led to the shootings came from the box in question.

"We assume that it did. We’re assuming someone put the live round in that box which, if you think about that, the person who put the live round in the box of dummy rounds had to have the purpose of sabotaging this set," he said.

"There’s no other reason that you would do that, mix the live round in with the dummy rounds," he concluded.

Rust Movie Set Ap

Bowles and Gorence admitted that they don't yet have the evidence to back up this assertion.

"We don’t have a theory yet," said Bowles. "We’re investigating and trying to get all the facts. That’s one of the possibilities, admittedly."

Asked who might have done such a thing, Bowles pointed to the local union camera crew. Members had reportedly walked off the set earlier on the day of the shootings over an ongoing dispute over their housing situation.

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that the New Mexico-based union camera operators on the set had initially been put up in hotels near the Sante Fe film set. However, they were later told that the union contract only required hotel rooms for people who lived 60 miles or more away from the set. The local camera crew lived between 49 and 54 miles away in Albuquerque; after the first week, they were told they were no longer be eligible for nearby accommodations. After attempts to resolve the dispute, five members of the crew resigned the evening before the fatal shooting, citing safety concerns with both the weapons on the set and the long drives they endured after 12-plus-hour-long days; they'd left the set before 8 a.m.

"I believe that somebody who would do that, would want to sabotage the set, would want to prove the point, want to say that they’re disgruntled and unhappy," Bowles continued. "And we know that people had already walked off the set the day before. And they’re unhappy."

Bowles and Gorence did concede that the guns were only unattended from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the day of the fatal shooting; the LA Times reported that the walk-out earlier in the day had been supervised by Hutchins, Assistant Director Dave Halls and Line Producer Gabrielle Pickle, who ordered that the crews' retrieval of their personal equipment had to be wrapped up before 8 a.m.

Gorence had a response to these facts while speaking on "TODAY."

"The guns are locked in a safe," he told Guthrie. "The prop ammunition was in a truck, a prop truck that was unattended at all times, giving someone access and opportunity."

Gutierrez-Reed was also a key props assistant. Her lawyers have said that she prepped the guns and put them on a tray outside the church by 11 a.m. when the lunch break was announced.

"At 11, nothing was going on at that point, she had the guns prepped, she had them laid out on the cart," Bowles explained. "They then went to lunch. She came back, she had another duty and responsibility as key props assistant and so she had gone to do that — right after she had provided the handgun to Mr. Halls.

"So, Mr. Halls had custody of the weapon, and at that point, she was doing her other duties as a key prop assistant," he added.

Gorence chimed in to explain why Gutierrez-Reed was not at the church while the weapons were around.

"What happened and what transpired in the church was not a rehearsal, it was not set to be filmed. This was what was called a tech prep," he said. "They’re positioning cameras. Hannah was not in the church — and that’s really significant because if there was something that was going to involve firearms, she had to be there."

Bowles and Gorence, who described themselves as former federal prosecutors, are hopeful that an FBI analysis of evidence from the scene will provide more insight. 

"We think the FBI’s going to be very important, their forensic analysis, and what they find regarding those live rounds — how they got there, who put them there, the DNA the fingerprints and all of that evidence," Bowles said.

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