Man charged in Northeastern University bomb hoax


(NewsNation) — A Texas man has been arrested and charged in connection with a reported hoax package explosion at Northeastern University, the FBI Boston said Tuesday.

Jason Duhaime, who is a former Northeastern University employee, The Boston Globe reported, was arrested on federal charges of conveying false information and hoaxes related to an explosive device, as well as making material false and fictitious statements in a matter within an executive branch of the U.S. government.

Classes on campus were canceled and two bomb squads came to Northeastern University on the evening of Sept. 13 when police received a call about a “suspicious” package that detonated on campus. Northeastern spokesperson Shannon Nargi previously said that a university staff member suffered minor injuries to his hand.

However, the Associated Press later reported that federal officials were examining whether the employee who reported the explosion staged it. That’s because investigators identified inconsistencies in the employee’s statement, and because his injuries did not match wounds typically consistent with an explosion, one official said to The Associated Press.

During an interview with The Boston Globe, Duhaime denied staging the event, and said it was “very traumatic.”

“I did not stage this. … No way, shape or form … they need to catch the guy that did this,” he said.

At the time of the incident, Duhaime had been the new technology manager and director of Northeastern’s Immersive Media Lab, though the Boston Globe said he no longer works there.

No explosive materials were found after the incident, according to the AP. A federal law enforcement official also confirmed to NewsNation that they were not able to find explosives.

A criminal affidavit posted online by The Hill said Duhaime called 911 and spoke to a federal law enforcement agent about the package, and told them he was injured by sharp objects expelled from a plastic case. The sharp objects had injured his arms, Duhaime had said to investigators, but the affidavit said his arms only had superficial marks and there was no damage to his shirt.

It also says the plastic case did not have any “marks, dents, cracks, holes, or other signs that it had been exposed to a forceful or explosive discharge of any type or magnitude.”

Another claim Duhaime made was that the case contained a threatening letter.

A picture of the letter included in the affidavit showed it said the “VR lab is trying to change us as a world” and that “we know you are working with Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and the US government!!!!!”

“Take notice!!!” the letter said. “You have 2 months to take operations down or else!!!!!”

However, the affidavit stated that evidence discovered during the investigation indicates it was Duhaime who wrote the letter.

“Likewise, aside from several fold marks, the Letter was pristine. It bore no tears, holes, burn marks, or any other indication that it had been near any sort of forceful or explosive discharge,” the criminal affidavit said.

In addition, the affidavit said investigators found a “word-for-word” electronic copy of the letter when searching Duhaime’s computer.

At several points, Duhaime said he was being honest, the affidavit said, saying at the end of the interview, “I’m telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God.”

No motive was listed in the affidavit. It was not clear in the document when Duhaime will make his first court appearance.

An attorney for Duhaime did not immediately respond to a telephone message and an email seeking comment from the AP.

Northeastern is a private university in downtown Boston with about 16,000 undergraduate students.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

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