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Christmas Day bombing damages much of Nashville's 2nd Ave

At least 41 buildings damaged in blast, 3 injured
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Posted at 7:20 AM, Dec 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-26 13:10:14-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville police have released a surveillance photo of an RV responsible for what they believe was an intentional bombing on Christmas morning in downtown Nashville.

According to police, the vehicle arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m. Anyone with information on the RV or bombing was asked to call Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463 or report it online via http://fbi.gov/nashville.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper has signed an executive order, which declares a state of civil emergency and enacts a curfew within the area bounded by James Robertson Parkway, 4th Avenue North, Broadway and the Cumberland River. The curfew will remain in place until Sunday, Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m.

Metro Police officials said tissue was found at the explosion site, but Chief John Drake could not confirm if it was a human victim of the incident. The AP said the remains were human, but could not confirm how the remains were related to the explosion

The explosion has caused AT&T outages throughout the area and has affected the 911 lines for local law enforcement.

Additionally, the FAA temporarily halted flights out of Nashville due to the ongoing telecommunications issues. Nashville International Airport said some flight corridors have been restored while others remain closed.

The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation into the large explosion that caused massive damage and injured three people.

The blast was felt across much of Davidson County around 6:30 a.m. Metro police said the explosion has been linked to a vehicle outside 166 Second Avenue N., the location of an AT&T data center downtown.

Police said there is no other imminent danger to the public, but out of precaution K-9s are sweeping the area.

Metro police said they believe the explosion was an "intentional act." However, a motivation or target has not been determined. Federal agents say the bureau has not yet determined the motive or if the explosion was in fact intentional. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is also assisting with K-9s.

Authorities provided the most recent update around noon. Watch below:

The FBI opened an online tip line for anyone who may have information on the explosion. Agents said anyone with information can also call 1-800-CALL-FBI. The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation (NCVC) has offered a $25,500 reward for information in the case.

Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said police received a report of a suspicious vehicle outside of the AT&T transmission building and upon investigating the report, officers called the hazardous devices unit. The vehicle was playing a warning message for anyone in the area to evacuate, police said. Officers then went door-to-door to evacuate the area.

Several city and state officials have commended those six officers who responded to 2nd Avenue, saying they likely saved many lives.

"[They] took swift action and directed people away from danger to save lives even at the time that their own lives would have been in peril. They are heroes and I am grateful to them and all of our first responders," said Mayor John Cooper in an evening press conference.

City officials give updates to the downtown bombing

About an hour after the report of a suspicious vehicle, the vehicle exploded.

Witnesses told investigators they heard gunshots early in the morning and a message coming from an RV parked in the street warning anyone in the area to evacuate before beginning to count down to an explosion. Police have confirmed that the RV was broadcasting a message. Video posted to YouTube appears to capture the reported warning message seconds before the blast. Warning, some may find the below video disturbing:

Three were transported to the hospital, with non-critical injuries and all are in stable condition. Metro police said an officer suffered hearing loss from the explosion, but the department is hoping the hearing loss is only temporary.

"At the end of the day i think all of us have gone from relief that there were not more casualties...to now anger and determination and resolve and a resolve to rebuild and not be deterred and to bring whoever is responsible for this to justice," said Mayor Cooper.

Traffic to the downtown area was also restricted. An Emergency Operations Center was activated in response to the explosion.

WeGo Public Transit said it will suspend all bus service at 11 a.m. and will close WeGo Central as a precaution.

Heavy smoke and damage were seen in the Second Avenue area. Police said debris from the blast was found near the old Metro Courthouse and near the downtown pedestrian bridge.

Mayor Cooper said at least 41 businesses were damaged in the blast, and officials expect more as they continue to survey the damage.

Photos: Explosion in downtown Nashville causes heavy smoke, damage

The deputy assistant to President Donald Trump said the president has been briefed on the explosion.

CBS News reported that President-Elect Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation, as well.

Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper have released statements in response to the explosion.