Gabby Petito and boyfriend Brian Laundrie fought over a phone and argued “aggressively” in front of onlookers outside a Utah store last month, a newly surfaced witness statement said.

“Something seemed off,” a witness identified as Chris said of the much-publicized Aug. 12 tussle between Petito and Laundrie in Moab that led to a 911 call and police intervention in the midst of their doomed tour of national parks out west.

At one point Petito is quoted as asking Laundrie, “Why do you have to be so mean?”

Chris notes in his statement that Petito, 22, appeared to be hitting Laundrie, 23, during a fight over a cellphone.

The witness offers a different perspective than the person who called the fight into 911, and said he saw Laundrie apparently hit the Long Island native.

Petito’s remains were found on Sunday in Wyoming – the victim of a homicide after she went missing late last month.

The couple argued over the phone at Moonflower Community Cooperative just before 5 p.m., Chris wrote in the statement to Moab Police Department.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie fought outside a Utah store last month.
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“They were talking aggressively @ each other & something seemed off,” the statement reads. “I think the male took the females (sic) phone. It appeared that he didn’t want her in the white van.”

He climbed into the driver’s seat, and she followed him.

“At one point she was punching him in the arm and/or face & trying to get into the van,” the statement said. “I wasn’t sure how serious this was – it was hard to tell if they were sort of play fighting, but from my point of view something definitely didn’t seem right.”

“Why do you have to be so mean?” Petito asks Laundrie, the statement said. She climbed over him into the passenger seat of the van, according to the witness.

It was as if he was trying to leave her and take her phone, Chris said.

“Not sure but wanted to help out,” he said.

The separate 911 call led to police pulling over the couple. Responding officers said the “male tried to create distance” by telling Petito to take a walk and calm down – which led to Petito striking him.

still image from a police bodycam released by the Moab City Police Department in Utah, shows Brian Laundrie (L) speaking with police as they responded to an altercation between Laundrie and his girlfriend Gabrielle Petito
Brian Laundrie spoke with police when they responded to the altercation with Gabby Petito on Aug. 12, 2021.
HANDOUT/Moab City Police Department/AFP via Getty Images

“He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van, he tried to lock her out and succeeded except for his driver’s door, she opened that and forced her way over him and into the vehicle before it drove off,” the report said.

Laundrie arrived back at his home in North Port, Fla., without Petito on Sept. 1. His girlfriend was reported missing to police Sept. 11 and Laundrie disappeared amid a nationwide search for Petito.

Police confirmed her death was a homicide Tuesday as the search for Laundrie, a person of interest in the case, continued.

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By James Carter

A Senior writer & Editor, James is a postgraduate in biotechnology and has an immense interest in following news developments. Quiet by nature, he is an avid Lacrosse player. He is responsible for handling the office staff writers and providing them with the latest updates happenings in the world. He writes for almost all sections of Editorials 24.