Police: Warning played before Nashville explosion
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An explosion shook the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early Christmas morning, shattering windows, damaged buildings and wounding three people. Authorities said they believed the explosion was deliberate.
Metro Nashville police chief John Drake said police were responding to a report of gunshots being fired when they came across a recreational vehicle that contained a record stating that a potential bomb was about to explode in 15 minutes. The police evacuated nearby buildings and called the bomb squad.
"Shortly thereafter, the motor home exploded," Drake said at a press conference at noon.
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The surveillance video, posted on a Twitter account on Friday and taped from across the street, recorded an audio recording with the warning, "... if you can hear this message, evacuate now." Seconds later, the explosion was captured on surveillance video.
Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said three people had been taken to hospitals for treatment, even though none were in critical condition. However, authorities do not know if anyone was in the vehicle when it exploded.
Aaron previously said that some people had been taken to the department's central district for questioning, but declined to provide further details.
The FBI will take the lead in the investigation, said spokesman Joel Siskovic. Investigators from the Federal Office for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also on site. The FBI is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for investigating federal crimes such as explosives violations and acts of terrorism.
Police dogs continued to search nearby cars and buildings at lunchtime.
A Philadelphia man who stayed at a nearby hotel said when he heard the explosion he knew it was not a harmless sound.
"It was a very loud explosion," said Joseph Fafara. “We tried to explain that it was an earthquake or something. But it was obvious that it wasn't an earthquake. "He said he traveled to Tennessee with his family for Christmas because the state has stricter COVID-19 restrictions than Philadelphia.
Fafara went outside to see the damage, but police barricades were already being set up.
Black smoke and flames were seen early Friday in the area, which is teeming with bars, restaurants, and other retail stores and known as the heart of downtown Nashville's tourist scene.
Buildings trembled in the immediate vicinity and beyond after a loud roar was heard.
Buck McCoy, who lives near the area, posted videos on Facebook showing water flowing down the ceiling of his home. Alarms sound in the background and screams from people in great distress can be heard in the background. A fire is visible in the street outside.
McCoy says he heard gunfire in his building 15 minutes before the explosion. McCoy said the windows of his house were completely blown out.
“All of my windows, every single one of them, was blown into the next room. If I had stood there it would have been terrible, ”he said.
“It felt like a bomb. It was so big, ”he told The Associated Press.
“There were about four cars on fire. I don't know if it was so hot that they just caught fire and the trees were all blown apart, ”he said.
President Donald Trump has been briefed, according to White House spokesman Judd Deere, who said Trump, who is on vacation in Florida, continues to receive regular updates. The US Justice Department said acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has also been informed and instructed to use all of the department's resources to assist with the investigation.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said on Twitter that the state will allocate the necessary resources to determine what happened and who is responsible. Please pray with @MariaLeeTN and me for the injured and we thank all the first responders who acted so quickly this morning. "
Nashville Mayor John Cooper said the city was lucky that the number of injuries was limited.
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