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'Rust' gaffer publicly blames armorer, producers for 'negligence' that led to Halyna Hutchins' death

Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The chief electrician on the set of "Rust" is publicly blaming the film's armorer and producers for the "negligence" that led to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins' death.

On Sunday, Serge Svetnoy — who was the gaffer on the New Mexico western — posted a long message on his Facebook page detailing Thursday's fatal shooting. In the post, Svetnoy said he was "standing shoulder-to-shoulder" with Hutchins when she was struck by a projectile accidentally fired from a prop gun used by Alec Baldwin.

"I was holding her in my arms while she was dying," the gaffer wrote. "Her blood was on my hands."

Svetnoy has not responded to numerous inquiries from The Times since Friday. But in his post, he noted that he had worked with Hutchins on "almost all of her films," including the Joe Manganiello action film "Archenemy" and the recently completed horror thriller "The Mad Hatter." "Sometimes we've shared food and water," Svetnoy said of the director of photography. "We've been burning under the sun, freezing in the snow or on the shoots. We took care of each other."

Though he did not name 24-year-old "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed by name, Svetnoy made it clear that he felt she held much of the responsibility for his friend's death.

"I'm sure that we had the professionals in every department, but one — the department that was responsible for the weapons," Svetnoy said. "There is no way a twenty-four-year-old woman can be a professional with armory; there is no way that her more-or-less the same-aged friend from school, neighborhood, Instagram, or God knows where else, can be a professional in this field."

 

"Rust" was just the second feature film Gutierrez had worked on as lead armorer, meaning she was in charge of overseeing gun safety and usage on set. She prepared the three prop guns used by Baldwin in a church shootout scene, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office search warrant affidavit obtained by the Associated Press. One of those weapons was handed to Baldwin by assistant director Dave Halls, the affidavit said.

In his public message, Svetnoy said that "the negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it."

The gaffer used his post to call upon producers to avoid cutting corners to maintain a low budget.

"To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job, and you risk the lives of the other people who are close and your lives as well," Svetnoy said. "I understand that you always fight for the budget, but you cannot allow this to happen. ... It is true that the professionals can cost a little more and sometimes can be a little bit more demanding, but it is worth it. No saved penny is worth the LIFE of the person!"

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