Northeastern University package scare investigated as possible hoax, sources say

BOSTON — Investigators are looking into whether a Tuesday night package scare at Boston’s Northeastern University was a hoax, WFXT reported Wednesday.

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According to WFXT, a 45-year-old university staff member said he was injured after opening a pressurized, Pelican-style case that was delivered to the school’s virtual reality lab with a rambling note directed at Facebook. University officials previously said the package was delivered to Holmes Hall and detonated after being opened, leaving the man hospitalized with burns on his hand, the news outlet reported.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 3:22 a.m. EDT Sept. 15: Investigators are trying to determine whether Tuesday night’s incident at Northeastern University was staged, WFXT is reporting.

On Wednesday, the FBI returned to the university and visited a home in Medford, a Boston suburb, according to the news outlet. WFXT reported that the employee used to live at the home, and his ex-wife still resides there.

Law enforcement sources told WFXT that the case, which did not contain explosives or gunpowder, included a note referencing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Investigators suspect the note was written by someone with close knowledge of the school’s lab, sources told WFXT.

The employee, identified by The Boston Globe as Jason Duhaime, denied staging the incident, the newspaper reported.

“I did not stage this, in no way shape or form. ... They need to catch the guy that did this,” Duhaime said, according to the Globe.

Update 8:45 a.m. EDT Sept. 14: An unidentified source told WFXT that the package contained a note criticizing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the relationship between academic institutions and the developers of virtual reality. Sources described the note to CNN as “rambling.”

It remained unclear Wednesday how the package got to the university. Authorities continue to investigate.

Original report: A source told WFXT that the device was “pressurized” and possibly was a case “that had some sort of writing on it.”

The staff member is a 45-year-old man who was injured and treated for burns to his hands at the hospital, according to WFXT.

Officials from the Boston Police Department’s bomb squad and the Boston Emergency Medical Services were called to the scene to assist, said WFXT.

The building was evacuated and students were notified to avoid the area just before 8 p.m., according to WFXT. The campus was declared safe and contained, according to a news conference with Boston police and the FBI.

Officials at the news conference, according to WFXT, said it has not yet been determined how the package got to the campus. It was also learned that Tuesday was the first day of classes on campus.

WFXT said other Boston-area universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University and Harvard, also alerted their students about the incident and to be alert about suspicious packages.

The investigation is ongoing and no further information has been released.

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