The attorney representing the parents of Brian Laundrie has revealed that knowledge of a firearm that disappeared from the Laundrie family home in the midst of a search for their son was kept from the public.
A medical examiner revealed that Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he disappeared following a nationwide search for his fiancee, Gabby Petito.
“Both (law enforcement) and myself felt it was best for that information not to be public,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said in a statement to Florida media outlets, referring to the vanishing firearm. “Imagine, with the frenzied atmosphere at the time, if the public thought Brian had a gun.
“I can’t speak to why (law enforcement) did not reveal the info but we spoke about it at the time, and I believe they felt as I did.”
The FBI and North Port, Florida, police didn’t say whether a gun was recovered when Laundrie’s remains were found several weeks ago. Bertolino noted that he didn’t know if that was the case.
“I do not know if a gun was found near Brian’s remains and possessions,” Bertolino said in his statement. “You would have to confirm that with (law enforcement).”
Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, handed over their firearms to law enforcement on Sept. 17, when they reported that their son was missing. They discovered at that time that one handgun wasn’t in its case, Bertolino told CNN on Nov. 26, noting that the FBI and North Port Police were present when the two made the discovery.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie on Sept. 23 for bank fraud charges after he allegedly used Petito’s debit card to withdraw funds and make purchases.
Laundrie had returned to his parents’ North Port home on Sept. 1 without Petito. On Sept. 11, the woman’s family reported her missing. Laundrie disappeared in mid-September, triggering a lengthy manhunt and drawing international attention and headlines.
Officials in Wyoming later ruled Petito’s death as a homicide, and officials confirmed that she died of manual strangulation.
A man who saw Petito and Laundrie fighting in Moab, Utah, on Aug. 12 called 911 to report a domestic violence incident, according to a recording of the call obtained from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. The man said he saw Laundrie slap Petito while walking through town, with Landrie proceeding to hit her before the two got in their van and drove off.
Video footage released by the Moab Police Department showed that an officer pulled the couple’s van over on the same day, after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near Arches National Park. The body-camera footage showed an upset Petito.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.