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‘Rust’ crew member says ‘sabotage’ allegations are ‘incredibly irresponsible’

A camera operator who walked off the film says allegations by attorneys that a crew member may have put a live bullet in a box of dummy bullets are "slanderous."
/ Source: TODAY

A camera operator from “Rust” finds allegations by the film armorer’s attorneys of a crew member possibly sabotaging the set, resulting in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, to be “incredibly irresponsible” and “slanderous.”

In an exclusive interview on TODAY earlier this week, Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence, the attorneys for armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, said they are investigating whether someone intentionally put a live round into a box of dummy rounds that ended up being used in the prop gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin that killed Hutchins.

“I believe that somebody who would do that would want to sabotage the set, want to prove point, want to say that they’re disgruntled, they’re unhappy,” Bowles said. “And we know that people had walked off the set the day before.” 

Camera operator Lane Luper, who said he exited the set the day before the Oct. 21 shooting over a lack of safety, reacted to the comments by Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys.

“I find them to be incredibly irresponsible allegations and slanderous,” Luper told Miguel Almaguer on TODAY Thursday.

Luper said he blames "corner-cutting" for the death of Hutchins, which the production company called "patently false." No official safety complaints were filed, the production company also said last week.

Bowles said on TODAY Wednesday they don’t have a theory about the case yet, but are investigating how the live bullet could have made its way into the prop gun. Gutierriez-Reed’s lawyers first clarified to The New York Times and confirmed to NBC News that the gun had been unattended for a total of five to 10 minutes after they initially said on TODAY the firearm was left unattended at times for two hours.

Gutierrez-Reed reiterated her attorneys' claim of sabotage in a new statement Wednesday night, saying "no one could have anticipated or thought that someone would introduce live rounds into this set."

The case has not been declared a criminal investigation, and no charges have been filed.

Investigators said Baldwin was told the prop gun was safe to use by assistant director Dave Halls before firing the fatal shot. Halls and Gutierrez-Reed have remained a focus of investigators as the primary figures involved in the chain of custody of the prop gun, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said on TODAY last week.