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Massive downtown Nashville explosion an ‘intentional act’, police say – Tennessean

Massive downtown Nashville explosion an ‘intentional act’, police say – Tennessean

Yihyun Jeong

Brinley Hineman
 
| Nashville Tennessean

Nashville authorities believe an explosion that occurred in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning was an “intentional act” and sparked by a vehicle. 

Police were responding to reports of shots fired near Second Avenue and Commerce Street before 6 a.m., when they saw a suspicious vehicle outside a nearby AT&T building.

Officers alerted the department’s bomb squad, which was en route, when a “significant explosion” happened about thirty 30 minutes later, said Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron. The force of the explosion knocked an officer to the ground. 

Three people were hospitalized with injuries, police said.

An active investigation is underway, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the help of Nashville and state agencies. 

Though authorities said there are no indications of additional devices, police were going door-to-door with canines in the downtown area to search nearby buildings. 

NASHVILLE EXPLOSION: Residents capture confusion, chaos in moments after downtown explosion

NASHVILLE EXPLOSION: Downtown streets closed to traffic as investigation continues

The sound of the explosion Friday morning could be heard miles away, as people reported windows shaking from South and East Nashville. 

Plumes of black smoke filled the air with several fires seen along what is typically a busy street that intersects with Nashville’s famed tourist attraction, Lower Broadway. Alarms inside several buildings were heard going off with water pouring into some buildings with structural damage and broken windows.

Trees lining Second Avenue were blackened from the incident. 

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. 

Andrew Carr, who is staying at the Viridian apartments on Fourth Avenue and Church Street, told The Tennessean he jumped out of bed when he heard what sounded like a “giant thunderclap.” 

He looked out the window and said he saw a “huge fireball” rising up behind an AT&T building on Second Avenue and Commerce Street — describing it almost as “wide as the building itself.” 

Carr said for the next hour he and his family watched the black smoke plumes rise into the sky and could later see debris on top of the AT&T building. 

Residents in the apartment building, he said, have been put in lockdown. 

The owner of the nearby Nashville Downtown Hostel told The Tennessean guests were evacuated to Nissan Stadium for shelter. He said he got a call early Friday from his staff reporting hearing a “loud boom” and the fire alarm going off. 

He said the hostel is damaged but did not go into details. 

This is a developing story.

Published at Fri, 25 Dec 2020 14:59:30 +0000

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Written by Riel Roussopoulos

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