By Hannah DiPilato
Christmas morning had a horrific start for Nashville, Tennessee when a bomb went off at 6 a.m. Friday morning.
Planted in an RV that was parked on the street, the bomb left excessive damage for the city; over 40 buildings were impacted. The most bizarre part was the fifteen-minute evacuation warning that played before the bomb erupted. This gave the surrounding area time to evacuate in order to prevent death and injury.
The police are currently investigating the situation and believe it was a suicide bombing. Human remains have been recovered from the scene of the incident, but no fatalities have been confirmed yet. So far, three injuries have been recorded due to the blast, but all are in stable condition.
A tip released to law enforcement about the vehicle involved in the bombing has led agents to Antioch, a town just southeast of Nashville, to search a home. According to FBI spokesman, Jason Pack, they are conducting “court-authorized activity,” but have not reported who resides in the home. Law enforcement has received 500 leads and tips that are now being investigated.
Douglas Korneski, FBI special agent in charge of the Memphis Field Office, was unable to identify any potential suspects at a press conference held on Saturday afternoon. However, as of now, police have identified one person of interest.
One possible motive of the attack could be the destruction of the nearby AT&T building which caused major problems for cell service in many southern states. Korneski said the FBI is, “looking at every possible motive that could be involved,” when asked about the AT&T building being a possible target.
Mayor John Cooper has enforced a curfew in the downtown area until Sunday as a preventative measure until investigators can learn more about what occurred. The downtown area, and heart of Nashville tourism, was shut down so investigators could comb through the remains from the explosion.
Many residents of the area reported hearing gunshots at approximately 5:30 a.m. on Christmas morning. The white RV responsible for the explosion was parked directly in front of 166 Second Ave. North, which is the AT&T transmission building.
The eerie message projecting from the van said, “This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes,” according to Betsy Williams, a resident that lived nearby the scene. The message repeated for a minute and then proceeded to count down from 15 minutes. At approximately 6:30 a.m. the recording changed as the time inched closer to the threat of an eruption. “If you can hear this message, evacuate now,” the voice boomed, minutes from when the street was blown up.
Six police officers that were on the scene immediately began evacuating homes after hearing the message. No officials suffered serious injuries, one officer was knocked over by the force of the blast and another officer suffered from hearing loss.
The investigation for answers continues into Saturday night and law enforcement is working hard to keep Nashville safe in the coming days. Korneski said the investigation will take time because “the investigative team is turning over every stone.”