‘Rust’ Gun Supplier Denies Live Rounds Came From Him

The man who supplied guns, blanks and dummy ammunition to the set of “Rust” denied Monday that he had provided any live rounds to the production.

Seth Kenney, owner of PDQ Arm and Prop, took the stand on the eighth day of the involuntary manslaughter trial of Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film’s armorer. Gutierrez Reed is accused of negligently loading a live round into Alec Baldwin’s gun, leading to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

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Kenney testified that he individually rattled the dummies that he supplied to the set, ensuring that each one contained BBs that indicate they cannot be fired.

“I have never sent out any dummy round that doesn’t rattle,” Kenney said. “Unless it rattles, it’s not to be trusted.”

Prosecutors have argued that it was Gutierrez Reed who was responsible for bringing a handful of live rounds that were left over from a prior production, “The Old Way.”

The defense, meanwhile, maintains that Kenney was at fault. On cross-examination, defense attorney Jason Bowles asked about a supply of “reloaded” live rounds that Kenney had retained from another production, the “Yellowstone” spinoff “1883.” On that set, the armorers had given the actors an off-site training using live ammunition.

Kenney testified that he kept those rounds in a gray bin marked “live ammunition,” which he stored in the bathroom at his business in Albuquerque, N.M. He said he was “hazy” about when exactly he brought those rounds back to Albuquerque from the set in Texas.

He said he kept that bin separate from his dummy rounds, acknowledging that it could be a concern to keep them in the same building.

“Why would you store live ammo at PDQ at all?” Bowles asked.

“I’ve got self-defense ammunition,” Kenney said. “It’s Albuquerque after all. That’s enough right there.”

Detectives searched Kenney’s business more than a month after the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting. They did not find any live rounds that precisely matched the rounds recovered from the set. The defense has argued that Kenney would have had plenty of time to get rid of any evidence linking the rounds to him.

An image from Seth Kenney's business, PDQ Arm and Prop.
Guns and ammunition are stacked up at Seth Kenney’s business, PDQ Arm and Prop.

Bowles has shown the jury numerous photos from the search of Kenney’s business, which show it in a state of disarray. Boxes of blank ammunition were piled high on shelves, guns were leaned against the wall, and loose rounds were scattered on tables among tools and other clutter.

On cross-examination, Kenney said that he had no particular system for tracking his inventory. If he needed to, he would write things down on a piece of paper.

“It was casual,” he said. “There’s no spreadsheet of inventory.”

He suggested that Gutierrez Reed might have gotten the live rounds from her father, the legendary film armorer Thell Reed, who is expected to be a key witness for the defense.

Bowles has also argued that Kenney stayed in close contact with Cpl. Alexandra Hancock, the lead Sheriff’s investigator, helping to steer the investigation away from himself.

“You called Det. Hancock over 40 times?” Bowles asked.

“That sounds about right,” Kenney said, adding that it might have been more than that.

Hancock earlier testified that she didn’t think Kenney was trying to steer the investigation, but rather was trying to be helpful in determining the source of the live rounds.

The jury also heard testimony on Monday from Rebecca Smith, who was the key craft services person on “Rust.” She testified that she went to Gutierrez Reed’s hotel room the night of the shooting because others were concerned about the armorer’s wellbeing and did not want her to be left alone.

While there, Smith said that Gutierrez Reed handed her a plastic baggie and asked her to hold onto it for her. Inside was a white powder, which Smith, a recovering addict, believed to be cocaine. When she left the hotel room, she walked down the hall and threw it in the trash.

“I was really offended,” Smith testified. “I didn’t want anything to do with the situation anymore.”

She said that Gutierrez Reed later texted her to try to get her “stuff” back.

Gutierrez Reed faces a charge of tampering with evidence for allegedly disposing of the cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. If convicted of both the tampering and involuntary manslaughter charge, she faces a maximum of three years.

On cross-examination, Bowles pointed out that Smith looked at the baggie for about five seconds, and that its contents were never tested by police.

“Other than your guess, you have no idea for certain what was in that bag?” Bowles asked.

“Correct,” she said.

On Monday afternoon, prosecutor Kari Morrissey called an expert in digital forensics to discuss enhancements to photos taken from the set. In some of the images, rounds with brass-colored primers could be seen alongside a single round with a silver-colored primer. The state has argued that the silver-primer rounds were live, and went undetected for at least 11 days before the shooting.

Morrissey then rested her case. The defense is set to present witnesses Tuesday, with closing arguments expected on Thursday.

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