Northeastern University

Package Explosion at Northeastern Being Investigated as Possible Hoax: Sources

A staff member was sent to the hospital Tuesday night after a package he opened exploded, prompting an emergency response from several agencies, evacuations and class cancellations

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There is no immediate threat to the public after a package exploded at Northeastern University Tuesday night, and investigators are exploring the possibility it may have been a hoax, law enforcement sources tell the NBC10 Boston Investigators.

Investigators identified inconsistencies in the employee’s statement and became skeptical because his injuries did not match wounds typically consistent with an explosion, said one official.

The officials could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

A note criticizing virtual reality and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was found in a Pelican case that exploded at Northeastern University Tuesday night, sources confirm to the NBC10 Boston Investigators.

The note, which contained grammatical issues, misspellings and copious exclamation marks, characterized virtual reality as a government operation, according to a copy obtained by the NBC10 Boston Investigators.

Sources told the NBC10 Investigators that the incident did not involve an explosive device -- they are calling it an over-pressurized case.

The sources say that the incident did not involve an explosive device — they are calling it an over-pressurized case.

Sources have also confirmed the individual that opened the case sustained injuries to their hand. Initial reports of other devices at other locations were deemed to be safe and unrelated.

The package delivered to Northeastern University's Holmes Hall exploded when it was opened Tuesday night, sending the injured staff member to the hospital — their injuries were minor — and launching a local, state and federal investigation.

The package was delivered about 7 p.m. Tuesday, Northeastern University said, and detonated when the 45-year-old man opened it.

The Boston Police Department confirmed during a news conference Tuesday night that a second package was also found and rendered safe by the bomb squad.

A spokesperson for the FBI office in Boston declined to comment Wednesday, saying the investigation is "still very active and fluid."

"There really is more evidence than one would imagine with an explosive for the FBI and other authorities to pursue," said Michael Tabman, a retired FBI special agent in charge.

"Law enforcement's going to be looking for key indicators — if those key indicators are not consistent with a targeted attack, a targeted violence, they are then going to shift and start to look at the person that sustained the injuries," security expert Todd McGhee, a former Massachusetts State Police trooper, told NBC10 Boston.

Northeastern said the campus is safe in a message posted on its website Wednesday.

"Events such as the incident that took place on our Boston campus last night can create or heighten anxiety for many of us," said the post, credited to Provost David Madigan and Chancellor Kenneth Henderson. "We would like to underscore what was communicated to our community last night: Multiple law enforcement agencies have determined that the campus is safe and secure."

The campus opened normally for classes and other activities Wednesday. Counseling and other support services were made available for students, faculty and staff.

The campus was on edge in the wake of the incident.

"My thought was just, 'Is this another Boston Marathon?'" Northeastern student Connor Martin said.

Pelican cases like the ones in question are protective cases used to secure fragile technical equipment. NBC News had previously reported the package involved in the blast was a Pelican case, and that a note was found.

That building was evacuated as law enforcement descended on the university in the heart of Boston, including the Boston police, Boston firefighters and Boston EMS. A spokesperson from the FBI said they were assisting in the investigation as well.

"FBI Boston is offering its full support to our partners, especially the Boston Police Department, including the full resources of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as our evidence response team and special agent bomb techs," FBI agent Jason Cromartie said.

After a package exploded at a Northeastern University building Tuesday, Boston police, the FBI, Mayor Michelle Wu and others gave updates on the investigation.

During that news conference, police were asked if there was a threat to the general public, to which they said that the investigation was ongoing and updates would be provided later.

Northeastern University police stressed that the campus was secure as investigators work.

"It’s very important to note that our campus is secure and we will maintain a secure campus in perpetuity," Northeastern University Police Chief Michael Davis said.

Other officials in the area weighed in on the situation, emphasizing that the situation is being monitored with a close eye.

"I take very seriously that this city is home to everyone's young people...we want to make sure to emphasize that this is of the utmost priority, the safety and wellbeing of all of our young people here," Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said.

Authorities were investigating Tuesday night after a package delivered to the building exploded.

"We're monitoring the situation at Northeastern and we're ready to work with the university and our law enforcement partners on any prosecutions that may develop," Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement. "The quick and thorough response by Boston Police and other agencies is the start of a comprehensive investigation to determine exactly what occurred here."

Northeastern's evening classes at Behrakis, Shillman, Ryder, Kariotis, Dockser and West F were all canceled.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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