NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A retired Yale University employee who had complained about his benefits showed up at the Ivy League school with a rifle, ammunition and a knife, but his attorney said he had no ill intent.
John Petrini, 61, of New Haven, was going to a campus on high alert on Sept. 10. Two days earlier, a graduate student vanished and police were scouring the campus for clues. Her body was found Sept. 13.
Petrini was charged with breach of peace, threatening, carrying a dangerous weapon and illegally possessing a weapon in a motor vehicle. He was scheduled to appear Thursday in New Haven Superior Court.
On Sept. 10, someone called police to report seeing a man carrying a package that looked like it might contain a rifle and attempting to enter a Yale building, police said. The building was the former home of the school's human resources department.
Police confronted Petrini near another Yale building that is the department's current location. He was removing a long case from his truck, police said, and inside it officers found a rifle, more than 20 rounds of ammunition and a large knife.
Petrini told officers he was planning to seek an increase in his benefits, police said. Petrini, who retired in 1996 as a mechanics helper, began receiving his pension in 2002 and later complained about the amount he was getting, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said.
"He had no harmful motive at all," his attorney, Jamie Alosi, said Wednesday. "I think any suspicion has been dispelled."
Alosi said Petrini only had documents in an envelope when he left his vehicle and was heading to the human resources department.
"He never removed anything from his vehicle," Alosi said. "When he left the car all he had was an envelope in his hand."
Alosi said the campus was on high alert when Petrini was arrested Sept. 10 because 24-year-old Yale graduate student Annie Le had disappeared two days earlier. Her body was found hidden in a wall on what was to be her wedding day. A Yale lab technician has been charged with her murder.
Police said they spotted Petrini in a parking lot. They said he removed the long case from the truck, but immediately put it back in the vehicle as police approached and removed an envelope.
An officer opened the bag and found a rifle and knife more than 8 inches long, according to a police report. The unloaded bolt-action rifle had a scope and bipod and had stickers of Elvis Presley and "USARMFORCE," according to the report. The case also had 20 rounds of ammunition, police said.
Petrini said he used the rifle to hunt deer, but police said deer hunting is not legal in Connecticut this time of year.
Conroy said he would not speculate on whether Petrini intended to harm anyone. Yale police declined to comment and messages were left with a prosecutor.
Police said he has no felony convictions and Alosi said he has no criminal record.