A Christmas morning explosion that rocked downtown Nashville, injuring at least three people and damaging dozens of buildings, sending smoke rising high above the city, blowing out store windows and forcing evacuations. Authorities said they believed the explosion was an “intentional” act. Officials said at a news conference that three people were injured and taken to hospitals.
The sound of the explosion Friday morning could be heard miles away, as people reported windows shaking from South and East Nashville.
Officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department were responding to a call of shots fired Friday morning when they came upon an RV, according to police spokesman Don Aaron. Police saw no immediate evidence of shots fired, Aaron said in a news conference, but something about the RV prompted the officers to request the department’s hazardous devices unit.
The bomb squad was responding to the downtown area when the RV exploded at 6:30 a.m. CT, Aaron said.
“We do believe this to have been an intentional act,” Aaron said. “Significant damage has been done to the infrastructure there on 2nd Avenue North.”
Three people have been transported to hospitals from the scene, but none are in critical condition, according to Nashville Fire spokesman Joseph Pleasant.
The force of the explosion knocked down one officer, Aaron said, and caused hearing loss in another — hopefully temporarily, he said. But no officers were significantly injured.
Acting US Attorney General Jeff Rosen was briefed on the incident early this morning, according to his spokesman, “and directed that all DOJ resources be made available to assist in the investigation.”
The White House said that President Donald Trump has been briefed on the incident as well and would receive “regular updates.”
Gov. Bill Lee in a statement said the state will provide needed resources to determine what happened and who was responsible.
Mayor John Cooper said he toured the damage, describing broken glass and water mains with insulation “blown up” into the trees. He estimated about 20 buildings had been impacted.
“It looks like a bomb went off,” he said. He said it was too soon for any conclusions but said updates will be given throughout the morning.
The downtown area will be “sealed off” for further investigation and to make sure everything is “completely safe,” according to Cooper.
“One more event in Nashville’s 2020,” he said.