The Northeastern University employee who originally said he discovered a bomb and rambling letter threatening violence to both the school and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg was arrested early Tuesday, with the FBI alleging the man faked it all. He previously denied staging the attack.
In a press conference held midday Tuesday, FBI officials said 45-year-old Jason Duhaime, a tech manager at Northeastern University who handles IT work for the college, had fabricated a bombing in September and conspiracy-minded letter that caused panic at the campus and far beyond. Federal law enforcement said they found a word-for-word copy of the supposed bomber’s manifesto on Duhaime’s work computer inside a backup folder. The last time the document was edited was Sept. 13 at 2:57 p.m., just four hours before the man contacted police about the explosives.
In an unsealed complaint, the FBI charged Duhaime with fabricating a supposed bombing incident and lying to the FBI. At the time of the supposed attack, police said they were called to Holmes Hall at the college’s Boston, Massachusetts campus late on Sept. 13. Reports said a man had suffered “minor hand injuries” from a supposed explosive-packed package inside a Pelican case. Cops said they recovered another package on campus but they had it “rendered safe.”
Duhaime was arrested at his home in San Antonio, Texas where he lives with his girlfriend, according to the FBI. Law enforcement said this was an active investigation and they did not give any hint of Duhaime’s alleged motive. The name of the ex-Northeastern employee’s attorney was not available by press time.
During initial reports in September, the now ex-employee, who at that time remained unnamed, told The Boston Globe “I did not stage this… no way, shape, or form.”
The university released a statement following the employees arrest saying “The university does not comment on personnel matters, but we can confirm that Mr. Duhaime is no longer employed by Northeastern.” Duhaime’s name was reportedly removed from his campus office following news of his arrest.
In the Tuesday press conference, the FBI said that after arriving, officers found the case and letter were “pristine” and did not show any signs they were subjected to an explosion, and they did not find any debris consistent with an explosion anywhere around where the detonation supposedly occurred.
The letter included in the FBI’s document threatened the Northeastern lab claiming its operators were “working with Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and the US [sic] government!!!!” while further decrying the lab for “using us all as human test subjects.” Duhaime’s bio said he supported the university with virtual and augmented reality technology.
Local station WCVB had previously reported based on unnamed sources close to the investigation that the incident was being investigated as a hoax, and that there had been no real explosives inside the packages. Those sources claimed that the man who discovered the packages had injuries inconsistent with what was described.
Those earlier reports about potential fakes are consistent with what’s alleged in the FBI’s complaint. Officers noticed that Duhaime was wearing a long sleeve shirt. Despite injuries the tech manager said he received to his lower forearms, his shirt appeared undamaged. Based on a recorded interview included in the FBI’s documents, Duhaime said the shrapnel from the explosion “flew up underneath” his shirt and hit his arm.