John Petrini, a retired Yale employee who was arrested Thursday while carrying an unloaded gun and ammunition, was denied an appeal last year after the University refused to pay him retirement benefits.

Officials said they believe that Petrini, 61, who was arrested near a parking lot by the Human Resources office at 221 Whitney Ave., may have been targeting the staff inside.

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

Petrini 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.

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

On Thursday, Petrini walked into 155 Whitney Ave., which was up until this summer the building for almost all human resources offices. He asked an employee there to where the office had moved.

The employee told Petrini of the office’s new location, 221 Whitney Ave. After Petrini left, the employee notified the Yale Police Department via a campus blue phone, and police arrested him in a parking lot near 221 Whitney Ave. a minute later.

“[The employee] thought he looked suspicious and carried some kind of package that was suspicious,” Peel said. “It was certainly exemplary behavior that may have saved us from a tragic outcome.”

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, Yale police said.

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 Thursday. “There were two squad cars very close by; really, this is a day of heroic deeds.”

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.

An arraignment hearing for Petrini originally scheduled for today was postponed to Oct. 1.