On the morning of Christmas, a recreational vehicle (RV) exploded in downtown Nashville in Tennessee, thereby creating panic amongst residents and disrupting communication services. As per reports, the cops were responding to reports of gunshots when the RV put out a recorded audio message wherein it warned that a bomb would explode in 15 minutes. The Nashville police swiftly swung into action and evacuated the buildings in the vicinity before the explosion.
“This area must be evacuated now. This area must be evacuated now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now”, the warning read aloud just before the bomb exploded. Three people were injured in the explosion and they are now being treated at a nearby medical facility. Citing federal sources, CNN reported that there were no ‘credible threats’ in the Nashville area that would point towards a planned attack on Christmas.
Some photos showing damage on 2nd Ave North as multiple agencies continue to work and investigate an explosion from earlier this morning. pic.twitter.com/0cWA3oUCDl— Nashville Fire Dept (@NashvilleFD) December 25, 2020
Investigation commences, tissues recovered from the crime scene
According to Nashville Police Chief John Drake, the police department did not receive any threats, prior to the explosion. He, however, conceded that the attack was ‘intentional’ and that nothing much is known about the motive behind the incident. The cops have also recovered tissue from the explosion site and are now confirming whether there was someone in the RV. “(We) have found tissues that we believe could be the remains, but we’ll have that examined and let you know at that time,” he said.
To process the crime scene, technical experts from the FBI have also been roped in. ATF Special Agent, Mickey French, informed that national response teams have been activated to work in tandem with FBI and MNPD. ATP’s team of chemists, engineers and explosive specialists will aid in the recovery of evidence from the crime scene.
Nashville Police Chief John Drake says investigators have found “tissue that we believe could be [human] remains” at the site of the downtown explosion. No fatalities from the blast have been confirmed https://t.co/MKapXtClR1 pic.twitter.com/15IgVtx9iI— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 25, 2020
While speaking about the incident, Mayor John Cooper said, “This morning’s attack on our community was intended to create chaos and fear in this season of peace and hope. But Nashvillians have proven time and time again that the spirit of our city cannot be broken.”
At the same time, incumbent President Donald Trump, President-elect Joe Biden and Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen have been briefed about the incident. The Governor of Tennessee Bill Lee has also informed that all resources needed, to determine the cause behind the explosion, will be provided. “We will supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible. Please join Maria Lee and me in praying for those who were injured and we thank all of our first responders who acted so quickly this morning,” he tweeted.
We will supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible. Please join @MariaLeeTN and me in praying for those who were injured and we thank all of our first responders who acted so quickly this morning.— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) December 25, 2020
Eye witness testimonies
While recounting the terrifying incident, one eye witness, Besty Williams, said, “I have never seen anything like it. It shook everything.” The woman narrated that she heard the warning that sounded like ‘automated female voice’. Following the warning, the woman and her family deserted the area and moved across the river and watched from the events unfold from the NFL stadium’s parking lot.
When they were driving down 2nd Avenue, they witnessed the explosion. “The fireball went all the way up past the AT&T, above the AT&T building. Everything just, I mean, everything shook. It was quite the blast,” she narrated. Another eye witness McCoy stated that he heard gunshots, about 15 minutes prior to the blast. “All my windows, every single one of them got blown into the next room. If I had been standing there it would have been horrible. It felt like a bomb. It was that big,” he recounted.
Aftermath of the blast
The explosion covered the area in dark smoke and flames. The explosion tore down 41 businesses and also led to the partial collapse of one building. The area has now been cordoned off. As a result of the blast, which affected the central office of a telephone exchange, communication services were interrupted in middle Tennessee and Kentucky. Reportedly, police agencies have also informed that 911 emergency services were also down because of the disruption in services. Moreover, the Federal Aviation Administration has also halted flights departing from Nashville International Airport.
The American Red Cross Society of Tennessee has come forward to provide shelter to those affected. In a tweet, it stated, “The American Red Cross Nashville Area Chapter has set up a reception center at East Park Community Center, at 700 Woodland Street, Nashville for victims displaced or affected by the explosion.” It further added, “We will have our Integrated Care Condolence Team there for anyone who needs it. We will be evaluating sheltering needs throughout the day. This is a continuing situation and we will update on our social platforms once further info is available.”
We will have our Integrated Care Condolence Team there for anyone who needs it. We will be evaluating sheltering needs throughout the day. This is a continuing situation and we will update on our social platforms once further info is available.— American Red Cross of Tennessee (@RedCrossTN) December 25, 2020
FBI seeking for credible information
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has tweeted, “The FBI, ATF and MNPD are seeking information on the operator or owner of a recreational vehicle linked to an explosion on December 25 at 5:30 a.m. CST in Nashville, Tennessee.”
The #FBI, @ATFNashville, and @MNPDNashville are seeking information on the operator or owner of a recreational vehicle linked to an explosion on December 25 at 5:30 a.m. CST in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit https://t.co/9JCLEQk4R2 to submit a tip. https://t.co/QoAsVrHBsE pic.twitter.com/VSlq8bWCue— FBI (@FBI) December 26, 2020
It is pertinent to remember that the investigation in the case will be taken up by the FBI as terrorism and explosive violations fall within the domain of federal crimes.