Luke Gulbranson Exited 'Winter House' to De-Escalate Conflict After 'Uncomfortable' Incident: Source

After threats and accusations flew on Thursday's episode, a source close to production tells PEOPLE Gulbranson "left the house because he was frustrated in his heated exchange with Craig [Conover]"

Luke Gulbranson 2022 Bravocon
Photo: Cindy Ord/Bravo via Getty

Luke Gulbranson made a temporary exit from his stay in the Winter House after costar Craig Conover threatened to throw him out the window for contact Conover perceived as "uncomfortable" toward Paige DeSorbo and Jessica Stocker.

Thursday's episode of the Bravo series ended with the Minnesota model and hockey coach packing up his stuff and seemingly moving out of the Vermont vacation rental, which he shared with costars from Summer House and Southern Charm.

"I just want to go home," said Gulbranson, 38. "I'm going to pack up all my s---, and then I'm going to leave."

The cameras then documented Gulbranson doing just that — collecting his belongings and carrying his bags, suitcase and boxes into a black car waiting outside the cast's home in Stowe, Vermont, not long after 3 a.m. local time.

A source close to production tells PEOPLE the reality star's departure was only temporary and that his decision to leave that night was intended to cool a tense situation. "Luke ultimately left the house because he was frustrated in his heated exchange with Craig," the insider says. "Production was worried things would escalate between the two of them, and put Luke in a hotel for the night."

WINTER HOUSE -- Season:2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Paige DeSorbo, Craig Conover, Luke Gulbranson, Ciara Miller, Amanda Batula, Jessica Stoker, Kyle Cooke, Austen Kroll, Jason Felton, Kory Keefer, Rachel Clark
Zack DeZon/Bravo

Prior to his departure, Gulbranson had been flirting with Stocker, who told him in the season premiere episode that she was interested in him. "I like that you pursue me hard," she told Gulbranson, later admitting during a conversation in the hot tub that she was "into" him. "I've made that very clear," she said.

But she also rejected an offer for a kiss from Gulbranson in that same hot tub. "I want to kiss," she said, before noting she doesn't do that on the first date. "Being intimate with someone, isn't that a big deal? ... As a girl you need to know, 'Is this safe? Is this a good investment?"

"I don't wanna make you feel uncomfortable," Gulbranson said, then leaving the hot tub.

By the next night, Stocker's feelings towards Gulbranson had started to change. "When I first came to the house, I was like, 'He's so hot and charming.' But the more I got to know each other, the more that I realized for me, it probably wasn't romantic," she told costar Amanda Batula. "And I think for him, it was."

"I'm trying in my body language to lead the way of, there isn't a way," she said, insisting to Batula that she's not into Gulbranson at all. "He laid it on like, real thick."

Batula, knowing Gulbranson from Summer House, advised Stocker to make things clear. "I think you gave Luke a grey space, and I think you need to make it, like, super black-and-white," she said. "This man needs it spelled out."

Jessica Stocker Winter House
Jessica Stocker. Zack DeZon/Bravo

Indeed Gulbranson was catching feelings for Stocker, calling her "incredible" and fawning over her to Batula's husband Kyle Cooke. "It's not too often you meet a girl that's like a beautiful woman who wants to climb a mountain, wants to rip a snowmobile. She's a breath of fresh air," he said, adding in confessional, "Jess and I have so much in common. We're only here for two weeks and if there is something there, I'd like to see what it could be."

Before Stocker had a chance to tell Gulbranson how she really felt, the two were joined by the full Winter House cast including Conover and DeSorbo, coming home from a night out.

Later in the evening, as the drinks flowed, Gulbranson approached Stocker while she was sitting in a chair and hugged her from behind. "How do you feel, do you feel okay?" he asked her as she recoiled into herself. "Yes," Stocker responded.

He then started giving her a shoulder massage, mimicking the one costar Jason Cameron was giving Rachel Clark beside him. "It's weird, it's weird, it's weird as f---," Conover, 33, complained as he watched Gulbranson and Stocker's interacting. "She feels so uncomfortable, she can't even lift her f---ing eyes up."

Craig Conover, Paige DeSorbo Winter House
Zack DeZon/Bravo (2)

Moments later, Gulbranson began chatting with DeSorbo, who asked him if she thought she would know how to start a fire — something Gulbranson typically handles. "Luke, you're rubbing off on me!" she joked.

Gulbranson approached DeSorbo, 29, and touched her leg before moving his hand to her hair and the back of her head.

That's when Conover lost it. "Stop touching her," he screamed at Gulbranson. "You touch her again like that, I'm going to throw you through the god damn window."

"If you pet her again... If you touch her again... Stop touching girls without them saying they want you to touch them. It's making everyone here uncomfortable," Conover added, pointing to Stocker. "If you massage her without saying yes, I will throw you through a god damn window."

In defense, Gulbranson denied "petting" DeSorbo, calling her "my friend." But Conover got angrier. "You just touched my f---ing girlfriend," he told Gulbranson. "Shut the f--- up or I'm going to knock you the f--- out."

"Do it! Do it! Do it!" Gulbranson shot back to Conover. "Quit acting tough, dude. You're not tough. Who are you? Are you a god? You're not a god!"

Soon everyone separated and went to their own rooms. Stocker later joined DeSorbo and Conover in their space.

"I've been feeling uncomfortable the whole time," she told Conover, after he apologized "for being so aggressive." She added to DeSorbo, "It's just hard as a female.... If I had a conversation with Luke it would have never escalated to this point. I don't like to have conversations the way Craig does."

"I get it," said DeSorbo. "Luke is not a bad guy he's just so dumb. I'm not defending Luke and what he did but Craig also blew it up. None of this is your fault, trust me on that."

Conover, meanwhile, was going off on his own, appearing to talk to production. "If he says in this house, I'm gone. Get him the f--- out of the god damn house now," Conover said. "It's so stupid. I'm calling the cops now."

"[Jessica's] not comfortable with him here anywhere. He grabbed Paige. I don't care," Conover also said. "[Jessica's] already broke down crying in our room. I'm telling you, I'm going to hit [Luke] in the f---ing face."

Luke Gulbranson
Zack DeZon/Bravo

Their disagreement never reached that point, though, as Gulbranson called his sister Alli for advice.

"According to Craig, I make girls feel uncomfortable," Gulbranson said, before calming down and processing the allegation. "Up until tonight, Jess had been showing interest. She's been flirting with me since we got here. But when you're left there sitting in your thoughts — being like, 'Holy s---, do I do that? Do I make people feel that way?' — it's really kind of a mindf---. Like, if I'm that guy? Holy f---, I hope not."

"I mean, I wasn't there but you've never done anything to make people feel unsafe," Alli advised her brother. "Don't let him determine who you are. Go home if that's what you want because you're not cut out for people saying bad things about you."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up to date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

As for Stocker, she tells PEOPLE that she stands behind her feelings on Winter House. "Just because I was first interested in Luke after first entering the house didn't mean I needed to continue to be," she said. "What I learned from this experience is that it's okay to set boundaries and vocalize when you feel uncomfortable."

Winter House airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.

Related Articles