State Watch

Former employee arrested following false Northeastern University explosion claims

Students walk on the Northeastern University campus in Boston on Jan. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi)

The FBI has arrested the employee at the center of claims over a package that exploded on Northeastern University’s campus last month.

The Boston Police Department said last month that a 45-year-old staff member, Jason Duhaime, was injured after a package exploded on the campus. He said the explosion caused “minor injuries” to his hand, and he was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

But officials said at a press conference on Tuesday that Duhaime made up the explosion, and they did not find evidence of any blast.

Duhaime had called 911 and spoke to a federal law enforcement agent about the package, telling them that he was injured by “sharp” objects expelled from a plastic case and that it contained a threatening letter directed at the Immersive Media Lab at Northeastern where he works.

The letter accuses the lab of working with the federal government and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and criticizes virtual reality.

Duhaime had been the new technology manager and director of the lab, but officials said at the press conference that he is no longer a Northeastern employee.

Racheal Rollins, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said that neither the objects in the container nor the letter appears to have been exposed to anything that could have caused an explosion.

She said investigators also found a “word-for-word” electronic copy of the letter stored in a backup folder on Duhaime’s computer, and meta data showed it was created the day of the reported explosion.

A federal agent who wrote an affidavit supporting criminal charges said they believe the case did not contain any sharp objects and Duhaime was not injured as a result of opening it.

Duhaime is facing charges of intentionally conveying false information and hoaxes related to an explosive device and making materially false and fictitious statements in a matter involving the executive branch of the United States.

Officials would not say if they have found a potential motive for Duhaime but said the investigation is ongoing.

Duhaime was arrested near his home in San Antonio and was taken into custody without incident.

—Updated at 12:44 p.m.

Tags Mark Zuckerberg Northeastern University package explosion suspicious package
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