Attorneys for Rust Armorer Investigating Possibility of Sabotage by 'Disgruntled' Employee

Attorneys for armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed say they're investigating the possibility the Rust set could have been intentionally sabotaged by an employee who mixed a live round in with prop ammunition

The attorneys for the armorer who worked on Rust said they are looking into the possibility that someone intentionally "sabotaged" the set before Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, attorneys for armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, told Today's Savannah Guthrie Wednesday that they are investigating whether someone could have dropped a live bullet into a box of prop ammunition before the fatal shooting occurred.

Bowles said Gutierrez-Reed loaded a bullet into the prop gun that killed Hutchins from a box of dummy rounds and only found the live round later. He explained, "We don't know whether that live round came from that box. We're assuming it did. We're assuming someone put the live round in that box."

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Bowles told Guthrie someone placing a live round in the dummy box would "have to have the purpose of sabotaging the set," telling the Today anchor, "there's no other reason you would do that." The lawyer did not address the possibility that the live round could have been placed in the dummy box unintentionally.

When Guthrie asked if his theory was that "somebody intentionally placed a live round into a box of dummies for the purpose of it ending up in a weapon that would be used on set," Bowles said he and Gorence did not have a theory yet, but were considering sabotage as "one of the possibilities."

Rust armorer lawyers

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

Bowles said crew members were working between 12 and 14 hours per day and had not been given hotel rooms close by — conditions that made them "unhappy."

"We know there was a live round in a box of dummy rounds that shouldn't have been there. At least one live round," Bowles said. "We have people who had left the set, who had walked out because they were disgruntled. We have a time frame between 11 and 1, approximately, that day, in which the firearms at times were unattended, so there was opportunity to tamper with this scene."

Gorence said that the gun was left unattended the day Baldwin accidentally shot and killed Hutchins, 42, with the firearm.

Alec Baldwin, Halyna hutchins
Alec Baldwin; Halyna Hutchins. Jesse Grant/Getty; Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

"The prop ammunition was in … the prop truck. That was completely unattended at all times, giving someone access and opportunity," he said.

A spokesperson for Rust production did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. PEOPLE has not verified Bowles' allegation that firearms were left unattended on the set of Rust during that time period or Gorence's allegation that the ammunition was left unsupervised in a prop truck.

While Bowles suggested a "disgruntled" crew member could have intentionally sabotaged the set, Baldwin shared a series of screenshots Tuesday featuring a statement from costume designer Terese Magpale Davis, who shot down claims that the Rust cast and crew were "overworked and surrounded by unsafe, chaotic conditions."

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"The day Halyna died we had come off a 12 hour turnaround after an 11 hour shoot day," Davis wrote in a tweet. "We had (including camera) gotten off by 6:30 pm. We had just had a 56 hour weekend right before that. No one was too tired to do their jobs." Davis added that "this is all provable by daily time sheets."

Baldwin accidentally shot and killed Hutchins Oct. 21 while filming Rust in New Mexico. Assistant director Dave Halls gave Baldwin the gun, which he announced as a "cold gun," meaning it did not contain live rounds, according to a Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office search warrant affidavit.

The actor and producer had been practicing a cross draw when he fired the gun, fatally striking Hutchins with a live bullet, which then hit director Joel Souza, Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Juan Rios told PEOPLE.

The shooting is currently under investigation and production on Rust has been halted. No charges have been filed at this time.

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