'Devastated' Armorer Breaks Silence After 'Rust' Death: 'No Idea Where the Live Rounds Came From'

Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is speaking out one week after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed by a bullet that was accidentally fired by actor Alec Baldwin

Rust's gun handler is speaking out after the on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, claiming she is unsure how live rounds ended up in the firearm given to Alec Baldwin.

Actor/producer Baldwin, 63, was practicing drawing a prop gun while rehearsing for a scene in Rust on Thursday, Oct. 21, when the weapon went off, according to an affidavit obtained by PEOPLE. Hutchins, 42, was fatally wounded in the shooting, and director Joel Souza was injured and later released from the hospital.

The firearm Baldwin used was identified as "cold" by Rust assistant director Dave Halls, meaning it did not contain a live round. Halls handed the gun to Baldwin and told him it was "cold," according to a search warrant affidavit from the Santa Fe Sheriff's Office. Halls has not yet issued a public comment addressing the incident.

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Authorities in New Mexico confirmed the projectile that killed Hutchins was a real lead bullet. At a press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Adan Mendoza said investigators discovered "500 rounds of ammunition" on the set, including, "a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting are live rounds."

In a statement via her lawyers, the on-set armorer — who is a crew member responsible for handling weapons during production of the movie — Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24, said there are "untruths that have been told to the media," and she is "devastated and completely beside herself over the events that have transpired."

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

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"Safety is Hannah's No. 1 priority on set. Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from," read the statement obtained by PEOPLE, issued by attorneys Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence.

"Hannah was hired on two positions on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as an armorer. She fought for training, days to maintain weapons and proper time to prepare for gunfire but ultimately was overruled by production and her department," the statement claimed. "The whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings. This was not the fault of Hannah."

The statement also said Gutierrez-Reed "would like to extend her deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Halyna," calling the late cinematographer "an inspirational woman in film who Hannah looked up to."

In September, Gutierrez-Reed appeared on the Voices of the West podcast, revealing she had just finished serving as head armorer on her first movie The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage. She said at the time, "I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it — it went really smoothly."

alec baldwin promo cover

Gutierrez-Reed, who is the daughter of expert Hollywood armorer Thell Reed, said her dad taught her much of what she knows, but she also learned through watching him do his job. Thell has worked on films such as 3:10 to Yuma, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Django Unchained, and Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood.

Baldwin spoke out about the incident last Friday: "There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours."

"I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family," he added. "My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna."

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