BOSTON (WHDH) – The FBI is now investigating the package explosion that injured at least one person on Northeastern campus Tuesday night.
Sources told CNN the package contained a rambling note criticizing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and the relationship between academic instituions and the developers of virtual reality. Sources said the note was in a hard plastic container and detonated when the victim opened the latches and lifted the lid.
The university said a package that was delivered to Holmes Hall, where Northeastern has its virtual reality center, detonated around 7 p.m. Tuesday night after a staff member opened it. Boston EMS first said in a social media post that several of their units were called to Leon Street after 7 p.m. for the incident. According to their post, at least one person, a 45-year-old man and staff member of the school, was treated and hospitalized after what police are calling a detonation with minor hand injuries.
It’s not yet clear how the package was delivered. A second similar package found during a search was ultimately rendered safe by a bomb squad.
The investigation is now under investigation by campus police, the FBI and other local agencies.
“We’re working with all our law enforcement partners. Our Boston regional intelligence center is working with the JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] and representatives from the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] and FBI,” said Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox.
Security expert Todd McGhee said investigators are now working to identify different components of the device, looking to capture things like serial numbers and barcodes.
“Why are those important? Because they can trace those items back to where they may have been purchased by the bomb maker, that would be an incredible lead into the investigation and hopefully, bring someone to justice.”
In an alert shared by Northeastern Police, students and staff were asked to avoid the area surrounding the five-story building, which contains offices and classrooms. Boston Police officers, as well as a bomb squad, were also called to the scene.
7NEWS sources said authorities were in the process of checking surveillance video as officers treat the area as a crime scene Tuesday night. It’s unclear whether this incident is terrorism-related.
Another alert announced that evening classes were canceled as the investigation continues. 7NEWS spoke with several students who were at Holmes Hall when they were evacuated Tuesday night.
“All of a sudden, the fire alarm started going off, which (is) pretty routine, so we didn’t think much of it, came outside to the sidewalk, and then all of a sudden, we saw that there was a lot more police and fire presence than we expected,” said Susanna Maize.
“The police present immediately put up police tape and told everybody that was there to move back into the main street,” said Ryan Di Corpo. “And then, one of the ladder trucks hoisted a ladder up to the roof of the building, and a firefighter with what I believed to be was an axe, went up on top of the building.”
“We were in class, and then we saw two policemen walk through the building and then, as soon as we looked out the window, we see a firetruck with the lights on, blazing,” said Jacob Isaacs. “We heard that it was a suspicious package and we just kind of exited immediately and that was all that we knew.”
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and emphasized that this situation “is of the utmost priority,” and newly instated Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said that the Boston Police Department will work closely with campus security to ensure residents’ safety.
“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,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden 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.”
Several other universities’ police departments, including Boston University, Harvard and MIT, have tweeted that they’re aware of the incident and are monitoring their own campuses. None are aware of any incidents but are asking their campus members to stay vigilant.
Anyone who may have information on the incident is urged to contact Boston Police, and can do so anonymously can do so by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or by texting the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).
This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.
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