Oct 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Report of Northeastern University explosion was a hoax, former employee arrested

A general view of signage on Northeastern University Campus. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

A reported explosion at Northeastern University last month was a hoax perpetrated by a former employee, who has been arrested and charged for orchestrating the hoax and lying to federal authorities about it.

Driving the news: The FBI announced at a news conference Tuesday that it had arrested Jason Duhaime, 45, a former Northeastern employee from Texas, in connection with the case.

  • Duhaime, the former new technology manager and director of the Immersive Media Lab at the school, had called 911 on the evening of Sept. 13, claiming that he'd been injured by "sharp objects" flying out of a plastic case he had opened, which also contained a threatening letter, according to a Department of Justice press release.
  • The FBI Boston division tweeted a photo of the purported plastic case and the letter, which it said was allegedly written by Duhaime and threatened further violence against the lab.
  • Federal officials began investigating Duhaime the day after the 911 call, citing inconsistencies in his stories and the injuries he'd sustained.

The big picture: Duhaime has been charged with "one count of intentionally conveying false and misleading information related to an explosive device and one count of making materially false statements to a federal law enforcement agent," per the press release.

  • According to court documents unsealed Tuesday, neither the plastic case nor the letter bore any marks of having been near an explosion.
  • When questioned by law inforcement, Duhaime's story didn't line up with what he'd said on his 911 call, but he denied any fabrication, per the DOJ.
  • Duhaime was arrested in Texas on Tuesday morning and will make his first appearance in federal court in Boston at a later, unspecified date.

What they're saying: “Throughout the course of the investigation, we believe he repeatedly lied to us about what happened inside the lab, faked his injuries, and wrote a rambling letter directed at the lab threatening more violence,” Joseph Bonavolonta, the FBI special agent in charge, said Tuesday, CNN reported.

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