The 45-year-old man who opened the package suffered minor hand injuries, according to university and law enforcement officials.
Investigators have not said how the package arrived onto the campus, stressing the investigation is ongoing.
The package contained a rambling note that criticized Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the relationship between academic institutions and the developers of virtual reality, several federal law enforcement sources told CNN.
The package was sent to the university’s virtual reality center and was opened by someone who works there, the sources noted.
CNN has reached out to Facebook for comment.
The note was in a hard plastic container and detonated as the victim opened the latches and lifted the lid, according to the sources.
While the employee was not seriously hurt, the explosion caused hand injuries including lacerations, the sources added.
Shannon Nargi, a spokesperson for the university, told CNN the package was delivered to Holmes Hall, which is where the institution’s virtual reality center is located.
Explosion triggers multi-agency response
The situation unfolded around 7:18 p.m. when the police were called to the scene, Boston Police Superintendent Felipe Colon said during a news conference Tuesday night.
About a minute after the initial call, a Northeastern University police officer arrived at Homes Hall, said Michael Davis, chief of the university police department.
“It’s very important to note, our campus is secure,” Davis said during the news conference.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu praised law enforcement’s response to the incident.
“We want to make sure to emphasize that this is of the utmost priority, the safety and well-being of all our young people here,” Wu said during the news conference.
The FBI Boston Division coordinated with the Boston Police Department, spokesperson Kristen Setera told CNN.
FBI Boston offered the full resources of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, its evidence response team and special agent bomb technicians to assist in the investigation, according to Jason Cromartie, assistant special agent in charge.
CNN’s John Miller, Josh Campbell, Sharif Paget, Zenebou Sylla and Mark Morales contributed to this report.