Police arrest gunman; ex-employee may have been targeting HR office

The gunman is suspected to have been targeting the Yale Human Resources office, located at 221 Whitney Ave.
The gunman is suspected to have been targeting the Yale Human Resources office, located at 221 Whitney Ave. Photo by Isaac Arnsdorf.

A retired Yale employee carrying a gun and ammunition was arrested on the edge of campus Thursday, and University officials believe he may have been targeting the nearby Human Resources office.

The gunman, John Petrini, 61, was spotted Thursday morning in a parking lot at 191 Whitney Ave., which is not Yale property but is on the same block as the HR office at 221 Whitney Ave. A University staff member called the Yale Police Department from a blue phone to report a person with a suspicious package at 9:02 a.m., and officers responded within one minute.

Petrini was armed with an unloaded gun and ammunition, University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said.

“All of us have healthy imaginations, and if he was going to take the gun into a University building, that’s obviously a scary thing to contemplate,” she said. “We presume that he was headed toward a University building because it’s all University buildings around there.”

Lorimer added that Petrini’s motives are unknown and still under investigation. University officials said the incident was not related to the disappearance of Annie Le GRD ’13 or this week’s visit to campus by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Petrini, a physical plant employee who retired in 2002, was charged with breach of peace, threatening, carrying a dangerous weapon, carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended license. He is being held at the New Haven Police Department on Union Avenue and will be arraigned Friday in Superior Court.

No one answered the door at Petrini’s apartment in Westville on Thursday night, and the YPD declined to release further details about the arrest.

The Yale community was notified of the incident in a 1:33 p.m. e-mail message from Yale Police Chief James Perrotti. University President Richard Levin said a text message alert was deemed unnecessary because the suspect was apprehended within a minute.

“I think this was a very serious situation, and we are deeply indebted to the good citizen who picked up the blue phone and reported suspicious behavior, and deeply indebted to the [members of the] police department who were there within one minute of the call,” Levin said. “There were two squad cars very close by; really, this is a day of heroic deeds.”

Doris Rogan, the president of the Yale Unions Retirees Association, said Thursday night that she did not know Petrini or if he had a history of grievances with the University.

Esther Zuckerman and Victor Zapana contributed reporting.

Comments