The armorer responsible for weapons on the film set where Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer has "no idea" why there were live rounds present, her lawyers said Friday.
The statement is the first public comment from 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez-Reed since Halyna Hutchins' death during the making of 19th-century Western "Rust" in New Mexico last week.
The live round from a Colt .45 that Baldwin fired during rehearsal passed through Hutchins' 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 representatives of Gutierrez-Reed. "Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from."
As the film's armorer, Gutierrez-Reed was responsible for supplying and keeping weapons safe on set, ensuring that they were 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 prop weapons for live-ammunition target practice on the day of the tragedy— a notion 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."
More than a dozen weapons were being stored in a prop truck on the set, according to law enforcement documents seen by AFP on Friday.
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 hadn't fully checked the weapon before declaring it "cold" (safe).
Halls was fired as assistant director on a previous movie for gun safety violations, that film's producers said this week.
Investigators in Santa Fe, where "Rust" was being made, said they had seized a cache of ammunition, some of which they believe was live.
Sheriff Adan 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 Gutierrez-Reed said neither of those accidental discharges was her fault, and painted a picture of a production where safety procedures played second fiddle to budget considerations.
They said production constraints made it "extremely difficult" for Gutierrez-Reed to focus on her job as an armorer.
"She fought for training, (for time) 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."
Since last week's tragedy, calls have grown for a ban on real guns in movies, with advocates insisting that today's special effects are good enough to make plastic weapons look realistic.
But Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey told AFP there was no need for a ban, and genuine firearms should be perfectly safe.
"There's a safety protocol, and if it's followed, it can be safe on set," the "Dallas Buyers Club" star said.
"One of the beautiful things about how film sets work— the organization is incredible."
The accident on "Rust" must have happened because "they missed protocol. Somewhere. I don't know if they were in a rush," he said.