Gunman applies for probation

A man accused of bringing a rifle to target the University Benefits Office is applying for a special form of probation that, upon completion, would absolve him of his criminal charges.

John Petrini, a former Yale Physical Plant employee, appeared in the New Haven state courthouse on Thursday to apply for Connecticut’s accelerated rehabilitation program, which drops minor charges for first-time offenders after placing them on probation for two years.

Petrini’s court appearance came three weeks after his Sept. 10 arrest in the parking lot of 221 Whitney Ave., where Yale Police Department officers charged him with breach of peace, carrying a dangerous weapon, threatening, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended license.

Petrini, 61, declined to comment for this story. Petrini’s lawyer Jamie Alosi told the News in mid-September that because Petrini had no prior criminal record, he was not considered a threat. Alosi also declined to comment further on the case Thursday.

Accelerated rehabilitation is granted to first-time offenders who have committed certain minor offenses; offenders charged with class A felonies and certain class B felonies, for example, are not eligible. If two years pass without the defendant violating the terms of the probation — which can be modified by the judge depending on the nature of the crime with which the accused has been charged — the defendant’s criminal record is cleared.

Alosi will argue Petrini’s request for rehabilitation on Oct. 22, when Petrini will appear in court again. If his application to the program is denied, Petrini will stand trial for the five offenses with which he has been charged.

Minutes before his arrest, Petrini had entered the lobby of 155 Whitney Ave. and asked an employee working there to direct him to the University’s Human Resources Department; the office relocated to 221 Whitney Ave. over the summer, 500 feet from its previous location.

The employee noticed a long case that Petrini was carrying, and asked whether he had a gun. Petrini refused to answer, and after he left, the employee called YPD from a blue phone to report suspicious behavior.

Last year, the University Benefits Office denied an appeal that Petrini had filed for retirement benefits. Petrini was targeting the office, according to police reports filed after Petrini’s arrest, and had in his possession a rifle, an 8-and-a-half-inch butcher knife and more than 20 rounds of ammunition.

Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel told the News in September that Petrini’s appeal was denied because, when Petrini left the University, he did not meet the minimum age requirement of 55 to be eligible for those benefits.

After his arrest, Petrini signed an agreement with the University that bars him from ever setting foot on Yale’s campus again.

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