Note with explosive package in Boston criticised virtual reality, Zuckerberg

A hard plastic case that exploded on the campus of Northeastern University in Boston causing minor injuries to a staff member contained a rambling note that railed against virtual reality and also referenced Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, a law enforcement official said on Wednesday.

Federal officials are examining whether the employee who reported an explosion may have lied to investigators and staged the incident, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.

Police and emergency personnel respond the scene of the explosion in Boston.Credit:AP

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

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

The official described the case as a “Pelican-style” case. Pelican is a company that makes hard cases designed to protect sensitive equipment.

CNN and Boston’s WCVB, citing law enforcement sources, said the package contained a note criticising Meta’s Zuckerberg. Meta has developed a virtual reality social platform called Horizon.

CNN said the note warned against working with virtual reality developers. WCVB said the note was anonymous and issued a general warning against working with Zuckerberg.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.Credit:AP

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports.

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

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

“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 on Wednesday.

Counselling and other support services were made available for students, faculty and staff.

The package delivered to Holmes Hall detonated just after 7pm on Tuesday when a staff member opened it, the university said in a statement. The staff member, a 45-year-old man, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries to his hand, police said. No name was made public.

Boston’s bomb squad neutralised a second package near the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, which is near Northeastern’s campus.

Holmes Hall is home to the university’s Immersive Media Labs, which according to its website includes technologies for design, development, and exploration of virtual worlds. It is also home to the creative writing program and the women’s, gender and sexuality studies program.

Northeastern is a private university in downtown Boston with about 16,000 undergraduate students.

Tuesday’s explosion marked one of the first big scares in Boston since 2013, when two bombs planted near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others.

AP, Reuters

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