Gunman accused of targeting HR office released from custody

A man arrested Thursday for bringing a shotgun and ammunition in his car to a Yale building has been released from custody.

John Petrini, 61, was released Friday on a promise to appear at an arraignment hearing on Oct. 1. He is charged with breach of peace, threatening, carrying a dangerous weapon, carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended license, the Yale Police Department said.

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Although he currently is free, Petrini has signed an agreement with the YPD saying that he will never set foot on Yale’s campus again, University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said Sunday. If Petrini needs anything from Human Resources, YPD Chief James Perrotti will personally manage those concerns.

Petrini, a Yale physical plant employee who retired in 2002, allegedly had an unloaded shotgun and ammunition in his car, and University officials said they believe he may have been targeting human resources staff at 221 Whitney Ave. Although officials stress that they do not know why he may have wanted to target them, Petrini was denied an appeal last year after the University refused to pay him retirement benefits.

Petrini’s attorney, Jamie E. Alosi, said he was released because, with no criminal record, he was not considered a threat. Petrini’s shotgun was seized, she added.

At a Sunday evening news conference related to the suspected murder of Annie Le MED ’13, Perrotti was asked if Petrini’s release is a threat to campus safety.

“We’re working on it,” Perrotti said. “We have a plan in place.” (He declined further comment.)

No one answered the door at Petrini’s apartment Sunday night, and neighbors and Yale colleagues said they did not know him. Alosi declined to make Petrini available for an interview.

Over the summer, staff members from Human Resources department moved from 155 Whitney Ave. to 221 Whitney Ave., 500 feet away. They moved in preparation for the Whitney Avenue building to be razed and the four-acre plot nearby to become the new campus for the Yale School of Management.

Petrini apparently did not know about the move — a mistake that may have saved lives. On Thursday, he walked into 155 Whitney Ave. and asked an employee for the new location of the Human Resources office.

The employee told Petrini of the office’s new location, at 221 Whitney Ave. After Petrini left, the employee notified the Yale Police Department using a campus blue phone. One minute later, after Petrini got out of his car at a parking lot near the new building, police arrested him.

“[The employee] thought he looked suspicious and carried some kind of package that was suspicious,” Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel said in an interview. “It was certainly exemplary behavior that may have saved us from a tragic outcome.”

Petrini had a previous dispute with Yale. He filed a complaint with the University in 2008 because he claimed he did not receive his deserved retirement pension. Petrini’s appeal was denied because he left the University in 2002, and did not meet the minimum age requirement of 55 to be eligible for retirement benefits, Peel said Friday.

No further discussion between the University and Petrini has occurred since the appeal was denied, Peel added.

“We’re just surmising that was what his issue was,” he said. “I don’t know for a fact that was why he was heading to the Human Resources office.”

Alosi said Petrini never took the shotgun out of his car. She said she did not know why he went to the building.

The Yale community was notified of the incident in a 1:33 p.m. e-mail message Thursday from Yale Police Chief James Perrotti.

The University has an emergency ALERT system in place — which sends a text message, phone call and e-mail to all members of the Yale community — to disseminate facts about potential security issues as they come. But in this case, University President Richard Levin said, a text message alert was deemed unnecessary because the suspect was apprehended within a minute.

Harrison Korn contributed reporting.

Comments

  • Mc

    Ugh… What an abomination of objective journalism : “Petrini apparently did not know about the move — a mistake that may have saved lives.” Great work there with your editorializing.