'Oh my God, that's terrifying' Panic, fear heard in 911 calls made Christmas morning in downtown Nashville

downtown explosion
Posted at 2:21 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 23:57:18-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Six calls made to 911 Christmas morning before and after an RV exploded give some insight into what residents experienced that morning.

Witnesses reported hearing several gunshots shortly before an eerie recorded message began playing from an RV parked on Second Avenue N. That message said the vehicle contained a bomb and anyone who can hear it should evacuate the area. Metro police officers who responded to the area recalled hearing the song "Downtown" by Petula Clark as well as a countdown starting at 14 minutes.

Listen to the calls below. Warning: Graphic language is used and some viewers may find the calls disturbing.

The first call was at 5:26 a.m. when a man called 911 from Second Avenue N. to report three rounds of gunshots he heard, the first round was about 7 or 8 minutes before he called, the second about five minutes prior. He reported the shots coming from inside the building said he was too scared to leave his apartment.

The second call was at 5:34 a.m. when a woman called from Second Avenue N. to report hearing gunshots from the street. She told dispatch she heard three rounds of six or seven shots. Dispatch told the woman they already received a call and have sent officers to the area.

The third call was at 5:38 a.m. when a woman called from Second Avenue N. to report a recording outside her building saying there is a limited time to evacuate the area, there is a large bomb inside this vehicle. "Is that you guys? Is that law enforcement?" the woman is heard asking 911. "Can you please send the police out here?" she asked several times, stating she was in a panic. Dispatch then tells the woman officers are already in the area to respond to a call of shots fired. The woman asked again if the recording was coming from a police vehicle.

The fourth call was at 6:29 a.m. when a woman reported her entire building at 160 Second Avenue N. had just collapsed. "My entire building just fell down and is collapsing," she says. "I don't know what's going on." She sounds panicked as she attempts to evacuate the building with her dog. "Oh my God, I think it's an explosion," she's heard saying while leaving her apartment. Dispatch then tells her there are responders on the way and that 911 is getting backed up with calls. "I want you to get out of that place immediately," dispatch tells the woman.

The fifth call was at 6:30 a.m. when a man who was working at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center reported a big explosion near the AT&T building. "I didn't see anything fall or anything, but there was a big explosion," he says. He added the explosion was big and fiery and that it looked that it was coming from on top of a building.

The sixth call was at 6:29 a.m. when a man in a building on Second Avenue between Church and Commerce Street reported a massive explosion downtown that caused a large fireball. He reported the explosion shook all the windows of his 15th-floor apartment. Dispatch confirmed Metro Communications has received several calls on the explosion. "Oh my God, that's terrifying. That looks like something is on fire still," the man said. The 911 operator is heard asking the man if he is OK, and he says he is, before telling the man officers are in the area and the fire department is on the way.