April 16, 2024

Rust director Joel Souza took the stand today in the trial of armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, telling the court that he did not see who gave Alec Baldwin the firearm in the fatal shooting incident.

“I didn’t see anybody give it to him,” Souza said, emphasizing that there was “an enormous amount going on” in the New Mexico church set at the time.

On Thursday, the movie’s first assistant director David Halls testified that it was Gutierrez-Reed who gave Baldwin the gun, contradicting various other witnesses including Alec Baldwin’s initial statement to police.

Gutierrez-Reed is on trial on charges of manslaughter and tampering with evidence. On Oct. 21, 2021, Baldwin was pointing the run at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins went it went off. The bullet struck and killed her, and wounded Souza. Baldwin was indicted on an involuntary charge and is scheduled to go to trial in July.

In his testimony, Souza recalled the moments of disbelief about what had happened.

Souza said that in the time just before the shooting, he went inside the church “to try to see what the angle was. There were a lot of voices. I heard Alec’s voice. I heard Halyna’s voice. Everyone is sort of talking at once.”

The bullet struck Hutchins and then Souza.

“I don’t have a clear memory of how long I was standing behind her,” he said. “I know I got a behind her to try to see on the monitor, and there was an incredibly loud bang, that was not like the half and quarter loads you hear on a set. Those are sort of, they are loud proofs and pops. This was deafening. And it felt like somebody had taken a baseball bat to my shoulder. I remember that distinctly, and sort of stumbling back and shouting, I don’t remember exactly what I said.”

Souza said that he saw Hutchins, who was being lowered to the ground. “People had her sort of by their side. And I still didn’t quite know what had happened. Nothing made sense. I remember initially thinking that she’d been startled by it, and they were sitting her down as a result. And then I I saw the blood on her back.”

He said that the scene then was “very chaotic. I remember them laying me down. I remember them laying her down next to me.” He said that there was “a lot of panic. I still just couldn’t figure out what had happened. I thought, ‘Was there something stuck in the barrel that came out?’ But just nothing made sense.”

He said that he recalled looking up and spotting Gutierrez-Reed, who was standing with a few other people. “She looked distraught. And I remember her saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry Joel.’ And I remember somebody just screaming at her and they just ushered her out.”

He said that he remembered looking over at Hutchins “and her looking back at me and she had the biggest brown eyes I had ever seen.” He said that he was put on “some kind of stretcher” and told that he would be taken to the hospital. “I kept begging them to take me where she was,” he said. “But they said they couldn’t and that they would later.”

He was taken to a hospital in Santa Fe. He said that it took a while for him to grasp that he had been shot by a bullet. “It just could not compute for me. I just kept saying, ‘You don’t understand. No, no, no. This is a movie set. That’s not possible….It’s just not possible there’s a live round.”

“They eventually grew tired of me protesting about it and they showed me the X-ray of my back and there was a very large bullet.”

Souza said that he did not know if Gutierrez-Reed was in the church at the time the gun went off, but that he would expect that she would be there. “The armorer would be where the gun is,” he said.

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