Former Northeastern University employee arrested for hoax explosion

An ex-employee of Northeastern University in Massachusetts has been arrested for phoning a fake bomb threat that sparked a massive police response and evacuation orders.

Jason Duhaime was taken into custody Tuesday morning in San Antonio on charges of willfully passing on false and misleading information regarding an explosive device and one count of making materially false statements to a federal law enforcement agent, according to FBI Boston.

On September 13, Duhaime, then Northeastern’s New Technology Manager and director of the Immersive Media Lab, called 911 to report an explosion. He told authorities he was injured by “sharp” objects shooting out of a plastic briefcase that he and another student had collected from the mailroom earlier in the evening. The alleged explosive was in one of the two “pelicans” he took to the lab, he said.

FILE — In a still photo taken from video, a Boston Police officer, left, and a K-9 unit officer, right, exit a building on the campus of Northeastern University, Wednesday, September 14, 2022, in Boston.

Duhaime also claimed there was an anonymous “violent note” in the case threatening his department.

The second, unopened case, received a response from multiple law enforcement agencies, including two different bomb squads, according to a press release from the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Office. Campus security also issued several warnings, including one about an “explosion,” and much of the Northeastern Boston campus was evacuated in response to the alleged threat.

Upon investigation, investigators found that the case that Duhaime told authorities was empty and undamaged. What’s more, neither the case nor the letter the ex-employee said was in the case showed evidence of exposure to an explosion of any kind.

Bomb technicians noted that they found no debris suggestive of a bomb explosion and that the cabinet where they were stored appeared normal, according to recently released court documents.

FILE - Students walk on the campus of Northeastern University in Boston on January 31, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins told reporters at a news conference later Tuesday that Duhaime “would have made up the story.”

Rollins added that a bomb threat should always be taken seriously, especially in Boston, some 10 years after the city’s marathon bombings.

“This alleged behavior is disturbing to say the least,” she said. “Our city knows only too well that a report or threat of an explosion is a very serious matter and requires a drastic response from the police, given the potential devastation that could result.”

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