A new lawsuit on Wednesday accused an ammunition supplier of creating unsafe conditions on a film set where a gun held by actor Alec Baldwin killed a cinematographer, by including live ammunition in a box supposed to contain only dummy cartridges.
The lawsuit was filed in New Mexico State District Court by Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the gunsmith who oversaw firearms, ammunition and related training on the set of “Rust” with two colleagues . Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died Oct. 21 of a gunshot wound during a rehearsal for “Rust” at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe in northern New Mexico.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the cause of death, said it was too early to determine whether charges would be brought. Investigators described “a certain complacency” in the way the weapons were handled on set.
Gutierrez Reed’s lawsuit blames ammunition supplier Seth Kenney and his company PDQ Arm & Prop for introducing live ammunition into the set where only blanks and dummies were supposed to be present.
“The introduction of live bullets onto the set, which no one anticipated, combined with the rushed and chaotic atmosphere, created a perfect storm for a security incident,” the lawsuit states.
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Contacted by NBC News on Wednesday, a lawyer for Kenney declined to comment. He previously said he was sure his company did not send any live rounds on the set of “Rust,” according to the Associated Press.
The lawsuit adds alleged new details to the chain of custody of firearms and ammunition on the set of ‘Rust’ on October 21, describing the appearance of a new box of ammunition – presumed to be harmless dummy bullets without explosives – shortly before a revolver was loaded and passed to Baldwin.
Baldwin said he was unaware the gun he was holding contained live ammunition when it exploded while pointed at Hutchins. Investigators are trying to find where the live bullet came from, searching the Albuquerque premises of PDQ Arm & Prop in December.
Authorities issued a search warrant for Baldwin’s phone, looking for text messages, pictures, videos, calls or any other information related to the film.
Aaron Dyer, Baldwin’s attorney, told NBC News the actor had agreed to turn his phone over to Santa Fe authorities for examination and was finalizing “logistics.”
“Since this tragic incident, Mr. Baldwin has continued to cooperate with authorities, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply false,” Dyer said. “We have asked the authorities to obtain a warrant so that we can protect his privacy on other matters unrelated to Rust and have been working on that process.”
The new lawsuit seeks damages in a jury trial on allegations of unfair trade practices, introduction of unsafe products, false labels and misrepresentations.
It indicates that the authorities found on the set “a suspect of seven live ammunition distributed inside the ammunition box, on the ammunition cart and in the cartridge pouches”.
Authorities recovered hundreds of cartridges from the “Rust” film set – a mix of blanks, dummy cartridges and what appeared to be real cartridges.