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Witnesses saw missing woman and boyfriend fighting in Utah, police say

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Posted at 2:00 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 16:00:43-04

MOAB, Utah (KSTU) -- Police in Moab, Utah released details of a report they took last month involving missing woman Gabby Petito and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie.

The incident was described by police as a “mental health crisis,” and no charges were brought against either of them.

According to the police report, the incident was reported on Aug. 12 at 4:30 p.m. near a convenience store in Moab in which “the male and female had engaged in some sort of altercation.” Police investigated the incident as disorderly conduct.

A witness reported, "seeing a male, later identified as Brian Laundrie, and a female, later identified as Gabrielle Petito, arguing over a phone.” The witness also said, “when Brian got into the van, he saw what appeared to him as Gabrielle hitting Brian in the arm and then climbing through the driver’s window as if Brian had locked her out and she was trying to find a way in.”

Moab Police stopped the couple’s van at Arches National Park.

Officer Daniel Robbins wrote in the report, “Gabrielle, who was in the passenger seat, was crying uncontrollably.” Robbins said Petito told him she had been having arguments with Brian that day and was “struggling with her mental health.”

Officer Robbins said Laundrie also spoke with him and said the two had been arguing “more than usual,” and their relationship had been strained recently after “traveling together for the last 4 or 5 months.” Laundrie also told police both of them struggled with an unspecified medical or emotional condition.

“While arguing near Main Street, he had attempted to separate from her in so they could both calm their emotions,” Robbins wrote in the police report. “He got into their van and Gabrielle had gone into a manic state. Brian said Gabrielle, thinking he was going to leave her in Moab without a ride, went to slap him. As Gabrielle started to swing, Brian pushed her away to avoid the slap.”

Police said Laundrie had “some minor visible scratches.”

“After evaluating the totality of the circumstances,” Robbins wrote, “I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis. I then determined the most appropriate course of action would be to help separate the parties for the night so they could reset their mental states without interference from one another.”

Another officer, Eric Pratt, wrote that the couple "reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn't wish to see anyone charged with a crime."

Officer Robbins said Petito took the van while Laundrie got a hotel room for the night.

“I instructed both Brian and Gabrielle to take advantage of this time apart to relax their emotions and regain control of their anxiety,” Robbins wrote.

According to the report, officers instructed Petito and Laundrie to separate for the night “and regain control of their anxiety.”

Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 by her mother when she failed to check in for several days. The Florida couple was on a road trip in a converted van touring National Parks.

Petito Instagram posts show the couple was in Utah for several weeks. The last physical sighting of Petito was at a Salt Lake City hotel and the latest Instagram post was taken in Ogden, Utah on Aug. 25. The pair then allegedly went to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, which is the last place Petito's mom said he heard from her daughter.

Laundrie returned to their home in North Port, Florida on Sept. 1, alone, with the van the couple had been traveling in.

Police have not accused Laundrie of any crimes but have named him as a "person of interest" because he has not been cooperative with investigators.

Gabby's family has reportedly organized a search party in Wyoming.

This story was first reported by Jack Helean on Fox13now.com.