An ex-employee at Northeastern University in Massachusetts has been arrested for phoning in a phony bomb threat that triggered a massive police response and evacuation orders.
Jason Duhaime was taken into custody in San Antonio Tuesday morning on charges 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, according to FBI Boston.
On Sept. 13, Duhaime, at the time 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 that blasted out of a plastic case he and another student picked up from the mail area earlier in the evening. The alleged explosive was inside one of two “pelican” cases he carried back to the lab, he said.
Duhaime also claimed there was an anonymous “violent note” inside the case that threatened his department.
The second, unopened case drew 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 alerts, including one about an “explosion,” and a large portion of Northeastern’s Boston campus was evacuated in response to the alleged threat.
Upon examination, investigators learned the case Duhaime told authorities about was empty and undamaged. What’s more, neither the case nor the letter the ex-staffer said was inside the case showed evidence of having been exposed to an explosion of any kind.
Bomb technicians noted they did not uncover any debris indicating a bomb blast and that the closet where they were stored appeared normal, according to newly released court documents.
U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins told reporters at a news conference later Tuesday that Duhaime “is alleged to have fabricated the story.”
Rollins added that a bomb threat is always something to be taken seriously, especially in Boston, some 10 years after the city’s marathon bombing.
“This alleged conduct is disturbing to say the least,” she said. “Our city knows more than most, all too well, that a report or threat of an explosion is a very serious matter and necessitates significant law enforcement response, given the potential devastation that can ensue.”