‘Rust’ Armorer Speaks Out, Questions Investigators Not Testing Rounds for DNA

by Craig Garrett

An attorney for the armorer on Rust questioned Sheriff’s officials for not conducting a DNA test on the bullets discovered on set. Jason Bowles, the lawyer for Hannah Gutierrez Reed, urged the lead investigator in an email on Thursday to reconsider the DNA test. Bowles claimed that not testing could be “a very significant issue at trial, if we get there, “Variety reports.

On October 21, Hannah Gutierrez Reed loaded the Colt .45 revolver that Alec Baldwin was holding when he shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while preparing for a scene. Baldwin was advised that the firearm was safe to rehearse with, and was not loaded with live rounds. Investigators have tried to figure out why it was loaded with a live bullet instead of dummy rounds. Seven additional live rounds were discovered on the Rust set.

Seth Kenney, the manufacturer that provided prop bullets for use on Rust, has been accused in a lawsuit by Gutierrez Reed. The live rounds, according to Kenney, did not come from him. The FBI’s forensic report on the gun and the rounds was completed earlier this month, which means that the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s investigation is nearing its end. Once the detectives have concluded their investigation, the district attorney will decide whether or not to press charges.

Reed’s attorney questions the methods of the Rust shooting investigation

In an email on Thursday morning, Bowles inquired as to why the FBI had not conducted DNA or fingerprint testing on the live ammunition from the Rust set. Detective Alexandria Hancock took the time to field the questions. “Given the fact the items were from movie sets, which had been handled over and over and over,” Hancock explained. “It didn’t make sense.”

Bowles also asked why Kenney’s prints were not used for comparison. Without fingerprint and DNA testing, he said it would be difficult to prove anything definitively. “Thank you for your input, however, we are done with testing at this time,” Hancock replied to Bowles. “We already know Hannah loaded the weapon that was used during the incident, that was her statement. We also know everything in question was handled by multiple people [on the Rust set] after the incident.”

She noted that Kenney was not on the Rust set during the time of the shooting. According to her, Kenney and Billy Ray had picked out the items they respectively supplied for the set.

On Thursday evening, Bowles shared the email correspondence with the press. He also released a statement on behalf of Gutierrez Reed. He stated that the key question in the case is where the live rounds originated. “It is inconceivable that the Sheriff would not seek answers to this fundamental question,” he wrote. “It raises a serious problem with the entire investigation,” Bowles insisted. “We have long sought this answer and will not give up in pursuing the truth to find it.”