Police and federal agents in Nashville searched for clues Saturday to determine how and why a motor home was blown to pieces in an apparent Christmas Day bombing that injured three people and damaged dozens of buildings in the heart of the nation’s capital. country music from the United States.
The motorhome, parked on a street in downtown Tennessee’s largest city, exploded at dawn on Friday, moments after police responding to reports of shooting in the area noticed the RV and heard an automated message that it emanated from him warning of a bomb.
The means of detonation and whether anyone was inside the motorhome when it exploded were not immediately known, but investigators were examining what they believed could be human remains found in the vicinity of the explosion, police said.
Police did not offer a possible motive, and there was no claim of liability, although officials with the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department called the blast an “intentional act” and promised to determine its origin.
Agents from the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting in the investigation.
“All the windows went from the living room to the bedroom. The front door was disrupted, ”Buck McCoy, who lives on the block where the blast occurred, told local television station WKRN. “Blood was coming out of my face, my side, my legs and a little bit from my feet.”
McCoy told CNN that he and some neighbors were returning to the area on Saturday looking for pets they had been forced to leave behind.
Adding to the cryptic nature of Friday’s incident was the eerie preamble described by witnesses: a crackle of gunfire followed an apparently computer-generated female voice from the RV reciting a minute-by-minute countdown to an imminent explosion.
Police rushed to evacuate nearby homes and buildings and called in a bomb squad, which was still on its way to the scene when the RV exploded just outside an AT&T Inc office building where it had been parked.
Later, police released a photo of the motor home, which they said had arrived in the area about four hours before the explosion.
The blast of fire, heard miles away, destroyed several other vehicles parked nearby, smashed windows and severely damaged several adjacent buildings. Mayor John Cooper said a total of 41 businesses were damaged.
Firefighters said three people were taken to hospitals with relatively minor injuries and were registered in stable condition. Authorities said swift police action to clear the area of passersby likely prevented more casualties.
Police Chief John Drake said authorities had not received threats of attack prior to reports of shooting at the beginning of the incident.
The explosion occurred about two blocks from Lower Broadway, where some of Nashville’s famous live music venues are located. The Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry and just three blocks from the scene of the blast, was not damaged. The current Gaylord Opryland and Grand Ole Opry complexes, which are located outside of the city center, were not affected.
Damage from the blast to AT&T facilities led to widespread fiber optic television, internet and telephone service outages in central Tennessee and parts of several neighboring states, including Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia.
AT & T’s efforts to restore services overnight were thwarted when a fire reignited in the company’s downtown office at the site of the blast, but AT&T said in a statement Saturday that it was deploying portable cell sites in the downtown Nashville and throughout the region.