Ex-employee wanted benefits

Just over one week ago, Yale Police arrested John Petrini, 61, outside 221 Whitney Ave., home to the University’s Human Resources office. Petrini was carrying a firearm and ammunition, and administrators suspected he was targeting the department. Staff reporter Victor Zapana obtained a police report for the arrest and brings fresh details to the story.

A former University employee who carried a rifle to a Yale building last Thursday was indeed targeting the University Benefits Office, according to a police report.

John Petrini, 61, who worked at the University’s physical plant until 2002, carried a rifle and an 8.5-inch butcher knife in a case to 155 Whitney Ave., which was until this summer home to the bulk of Yale’s Human Resources offices. Shortly before his arrest in an adjacent parking lot, Petrini told police he was seeking a benefits increase, according to the report, and claimed that a rifle in his possession was for deer hunting.

Petrini drove a dump truck to 155 Whitney Ave., where an employee directed him to the new location of the University Benefits Office at 221 Whitney Ave. That employee thought Petrini was acting suspiciously and asked if a long box that Petrini was carrying contained a gun.

Petrini did not respond, according to the police report. The employee then called the police from a nearby blue phone. Yale Police arrested Petrini one minute after receiving the call.

In an interview Thursday, the employee — who requested that his name and position be withheld — said he called police “instinctively.”

“It’s just a sense of community here that I tried to uphold,” the employee said. “We are an open society, but we have to be very cautiously prepared.”

As police approached Petrini in the parking lot of 221 Whitney Ave., Petrini placed the rifle case back in his truck and retrieved a manila envelope, according to the report. Officer Martin Pitoniak opened the case to reveal a bolt-action rifle and an 8.5-inch butcher knife, according to the report.

After arresting Petrini, officers called the Yale Bomb Squad to inspect the dump truck for explosives, of which there were none.

Petrini told officers he was planning to hunt deer with the rifle; the police report notes “Deer hunting is not legal in Connecticut this time of year.”

Petrini was charged with breach of peace, threatening, carrying a dangerous weapon, carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended license — his license had been suspended since July — Yale police said. An arraignment hearing for Petrini originally scheduled for Sept. 11 was postponed to Oct. 1.

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