Washington, Dec 25 (EFE).- Three people suffered non-critical injuries Friday in an “intentional” explosion in the entertainment district of Nashville, a city of nearly 700,000 people in the south-central United States, authorities said.
“We know of no other imminent danger to the city at this point,” Nashville Metropolitan Police Department (NMPD) spokesman Don Aaron told a press conference at mid-day, describing the ongoing deployment of bomb-sniffing dogs was simply a precaution.
NMPD officers were already on the scene when the blast occurred at 6:30 am, responding to a call about gunfire.
One officer was knocked off his feet by the shock wave from the explosion, which originated from a RV parked in front of a AT&T transmission and switching center.
Aaron confirmed an account from a resident that the RV was broadcasting a warning about a bomb set to explode in 15 minutes and he said that police “did their best to get people to safety” ahead of the blast.
The Tennessean reported on its website that police were alerted by Betsy Williams, owner of a building across the street housing a restaurant.
She told the newspaper that restaurant patrons spotted the RV Thursday night.
Awakened around 4:30 am by what sounded like gunshots, Williams called emergency services.
From her residence on the third floor of the building, she then heard a warning coming from the RV: “Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode.”
After a number of repetitions, the voice began a 15-minute countdown, Williams told The Tennessean.
On a video posted to YouTube that captured the moments before the explosion, a female voice is heard repeating: “This area must be evacuated now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now.”
Dozens of buildings were damaged, according to Nashville Mayor John Cooper.
Why is Nashville's mayor laughing about a massive bomb ripping through his downtown on Christmas????
— Andy EXPERT Swan (@AndySwan) December 25, 2020
“We don’t know if anybody was in the RV when it exploded,” the NMPD’s Aaron said.
Aaron and NMPD Chief John Drake were joined at the press conference by the heads of the Nashville offices of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The FBI is taking the lead role in the investigation.
“We’re putting everything we have into finding who was responsible,” bringing in specialists from across the country to comb the “massive crime scene,” the FBI special agent in charge, Matt Foster, said.
He mentioned “investigative leads” that were being pursued, but did not offer any details, while appealing to the public for tips.
The White House said that outgoing President Donald Trump, who is spending Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, has “been briefed on the explosion in Nashville, Tennessee, and will continue to receive regular updates.”
“The President is grateful for the incredible first responders and praying for those who were injured,” Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said.
Nashville, Tennessee’s capital, is also the mecca of country music. EFE bpm/dr
© 2020 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.