Brian Laundrie allegedly entered a rural Wyoming restaurant and beat four women, choking one in a “full-blown incident” with a “crying” Gabby Petito, witnesses who reported the incident to police said Wednesday.
“It’s a full-blown incident, there’s no doubt in my mind. And yes, there was a crying girl,” one of the witnesses, Michelle Petit, told NBC News.
“You could tell he was violent,” Petit said. “He choked one of them and she was screaming, ‘No, no, no.'”
Laundrie, 21, allegedly attacked the women in a “split second” Friday night at the Amok Market at Wainwright in McIntosh County, Wyoming, a small county southeast of Cheyenne. Police described the victims as “female employees.” None of the victims’ names were released.
“I saw the guy trying to choke one of the women, she was coughing up blood, freaking out and everybody in the restaurant was telling her not to do that, you know? But then he ran back to his booth. All that was left of his booth were two tearful workers down in there and a crying girl who was pinned there,” one of the other witnesses, Lyle Best, told the Billings Gazette.
Petit also described hearing a woman scream during the altercation.
“My friend was yelling at him and he was yelling back at her and then he went straight to his booth, and immediately closed the door and disappeared. So when we went to get a Coke, we walked away and you could see two women crying in a booth,” Petit said.
The men said they didn’t initially realize what was happening to the victims. Petit and Best said they watched the incident from outside their bar in the back of the restaurant.
“I was just wondering if it was going to be some trouble brewing over there, somebody they knew or that it was going to be just the normal run of the mill. But then I saw the girl get pulled out of the booth and that’s when I saw his fists fly,” Best said.
“It was just violent. You know, [she] was being strangled, and then her boyfriend runs out of the booth to try to help her. I have no idea why the guy left, he walked to his truck, kind of just got into his truck, and just drove off,” Petit said.
An officer on patrol in the area attempted to assist the victims after seeing them attempt to break free from Laundrie, the Billings Gazette reported. The officer, Jacob Nilson, told police Laundrie broke a window to leave the restaurant, then had to be restrained by two other employees and police after taking a victim’s purse. Laundrie is being held on $1 million bond and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
Law enforcement investigators reviewed surveillance video from inside the restaurant and were on scene “monitoring for any suspicious activity,” McIntosh County Undersheriff Johnny Werner told The Washington Post on Thursday. Werner said the video showed “a female in the front grill, at which time the suspect comes from the back.” He declined to release the video to The Post, citing an ongoing investigation.
Lisa Mueller, a spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, told The Post that investigators are conducting interviews and are following leads.
“This investigation is ongoing,” Mueller said.
The state’s Highway Patrol is asking for help from the public to help identify the victims. State authorities noted Wednesday that the investigation is still open and that anyone with information is asked to contact the Wyoming Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (307) 647-3584.
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