BOSTON (AP) — Federal officials are investigating whether the employee who reported an explosion at Northeastern University may have lied to investigators and staged the incident, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.
Investigators identified inconsistencies in the employee’s statement and became skeptical because his injuries did not match injuries generally consistent with an explosion, an official said.
Officials could not publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The Northeast staffer said Tuesday night that the hard plastic case exploded on the Boston campus, causing minor injuries, authorities said.
The case contained a rambling memo that denounced virtual reality and also referenced Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, a law enforcement official said. No explosive material was found and they do not believe the package was sent by the US Postal Service, the official said.
The official described the case as a “Pelican-style” affair. Pelican is a company that manufactures hard cases designed to protect sensitive equipment.
A spokesperson for the FBI’s Boston office declined to comment Wednesday, saying the investigation is “still very active and fluid.”
Northeastern in a post Wednesday on its website said the campus was safe.
“Events such as the incident that took place on our Boston campus last night may create or heighten anxiety for many of us,” the message said, credited to Provost David Madigan and Chancellor Kenneth. Henderson. “We would like to highlight 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 on Wednesday. Counseling and other support services were made available to students, faculty and staff.
Despite the school’s assurances, many students remain worried.
“Every time I go to a classroom or a lunchroom or anything in general, people just talk about what’s going on and what happened yesterday,” student Lisbeth Martinez said Wednesday. . “A lot of people are still anxious and obviously scared about the situation.”
The package delivered to Holmes Hall exploded just after 7 p.m. Tuesday when a staff member opened it, the university said in a statement. The staff member, a 45-year-old man, was taken to hospital with minor hand injuries, police said. No names have been made public.
The Boston Bomb Squad neutralized a second package near the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, which is near the Northeastern campus.
Holmes Hall is home to the university’s Immersive Media Labs, which its website says includes technology for designing, developing and exploring virtual worlds. It is also home to the Creative Writing program and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.
Northeastern is a private university in downtown Boston with approximately 16,000 undergraduate students.
The case marks one of Boston’s first major scares since 2013, when two bombs planted near the Boston Marathon finish line killed three spectators and injured more than 260 others.
Associated Press reporters Mark Pratt and Rodrique Ngowi in Boston contributed to this report.