Rust Crew Member Details Troubling 'Red Flags' on Set Ahead of Fatal Shooting

A crew member who worked on Rust said the film's armorer sometimes left weapons "unattended" ahead of the shooting on set that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

Rust set photo
Photo: Courtesy

Before the fatal on-set shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza, the production of Rust was rife with "red flags," according to a crew member who worked on the film.

While filming the Western on Thursday in New Mexico, Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun during rehearsal, striking Hutchins, 42, and also hitting Souza, 48. Now, a Rust crew member tells PEOPLE, that to them, the filming environment felt unsafe leading up to Hutchins' death.

The insider tells PEOPLE they saw "a lot of red flags" while watching armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed. On film sets, the armorer is generally tasked with overseeing weapons.

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

According to the crew member, Gutierrez Reed didn't keep her weapons "safe" and "locked up" while filming. A photo provided by the person (seen above) shows guns strewn about on a prop table.

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"There's a lot of times where her little cart that has her weapons — I've been on other shoots where they're very safe and professional," the crew member says. "No one handles those weapons but the armorer and they keep them safe … She just had them on a cart, unattended sometimes where anybody could grab it, tamper with it."

PEOPLE has reached out to Gutierrez Reed for comment.

Although they saw "red flags" with how Gutierrez Reed handled the weapons on set, the crew member tells PEOPLE it was "set etiquette" to "stay in your lane" and "not to say anything."

"You're just like, 'Oh, well, you know, I don't do that. This is my craft. I gotta stay in my lane. What am I to tell someone how to do their job,' " they said.

Despite reports saying Gutierrez Reed was an "inexperienced" armorer who had been called in to replace the original armorer, the crew member insists she had been on the Rust set "since day one."

"That armorer has always been the armorer," they say. "I read reports where they're saying that the experienced armorer walked off and then they hired an inexperienced person. That's false. She was always there working."

The crew member also describes concerning moments with assistant director Dave Halls. While shooting a scene in an old building located at Bonanza Creek Ranch, the crew member says Halls seemed unsure whether the structure would hold all of the cast and crew as they filmed a scene on the second floor.

RELATED VIDEO: Alec Baldwin Seen Distraught After Accidental Shooting on Set of Rust Movie, Killing Cinematographer

During the second take, Halls allegedly told everyone, "'If you don't need to be up here, I want you to go downstairs. I don't know if this top floor is built or has the structure to hold all of us up here,' " the crew member says, adding, "That was scary."

Halls has also been reached out to by PEOPLE for comment.

A source close to the production tells PEOPLE, "Ten days into production, three full set safety meetings were held, including one the morning of the incident."

The Rust film set has been shut down and production indefinitely paused following Hutchins' death, according to the production company, Rust Movie Productions, LLC.

In an email to the film's crew, obtained by PEOPLE, the Rust production team said, "We are conducting an internal review of safety protocols. As with any ongoing investigation, we are limited in our ability to say anything further publicly or privately, and ask for your patience in that regards."

-- With reporting by Stephanie Bauer

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