Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armourer responsible for weapons on the film set where Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer, has “no idea” why live rounds were present, her lawyers said on Friday.
The statement is the first public comment from Ms Gutierrez-Reed since Halyna Hutchins's death during the filming of 19th-century Western Rust in New Mexico last week.
The suspected live round from a Colt .45 that Baldwin fired during rehearsal passed through Hutchins's body and struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder.
“Ultimately this set would never have been compromised if live ammo were not introduced,” said the statement from Ms Gutierrez-Reed's representatives. “Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from.”
As the film's armourer, Ms Gutierrez-Reed would have been responsible for supplying and keeping weapons safe on set, ensuring that they are accounted for at all times and locked away when not in use.
Her comments come after days of reports of safety lapses on set, including claims that crew members had used the prop weapons for live-ammunition target practice on the day of the tragedy — a notion Ms Gutierrez-Reed dismissed on Friday.
“Hannah and the prop master gained control over the guns and she never witnessed anyone shoot live rounds with these guns and nor would she permit that,” the statement said.
“They were locked up every night and at lunch and there's no way a single one of them was unaccounted for or being shot by crew members.”
Baldwin — who served as a producer on the low-budget movie, as well as its lead actor — was handed the gun by assistant director Dave Halls, who told detectives he had not fully checked the weapon before declaring it “cold".
The actor has been co-operative in the investigation, Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza said.
Authorities also recovered 500 rounds of ammunition — a mix of blanks, dummies and live rounds — while searching the film set.
Two other guns were seized, including a single-action revolver that may have been modified and a plastic gun that was described as a revolver, officials said.
“We suspect that there were other live rounds, but that’s up to the testing. But right now, we’re going to determine how those got there, why they were there, because they shouldn’t have been,” Mr Mendoza said.
Mr Mendoza told reporters there was “some complacency” on set, and crew members had complained about lax protocols in the lead-up to the accident, including two previous incidents in which guns were fired.
Lawyers for Ms Gutierrez-Reed said neither of those accidental discharges was her fault, painting a picture of a production where safety procedures played second fiddle to budget considerations.
They said production constraints made it “extremely difficult” for Ms Gutierrez-Reed to focus on her job as an armourer.
“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 whole production set became unsafe due to various factors, including lack of safety meetings. This was not the fault of Hannah.”
Ms Carmack-Altwies said it is too early to discuss charges, but said the investigation has not yet concluded. She added investigators cannot say whether the shooting was committed due to negligence or who was at fault.
“It will take many more facts, corroborated facts, before we can get to that criminal negligence standard,” she said.
- Agencies contributed to this report