- An explosion in Nashville linked to a parked RV left three people injured and destroyed much of a downtown street on Christmas Day.
- Authorities called the blast “intentional,” and hundreds of investigators quickly fanned out to determine a motive and pinpoint a culprit.
- Witnesses and authorities reported that shortly before the RV exploded, an audio recording warned that a bomb would go off in 15 minutes and urged people to evacuate.
- As of Saturday evening, authorities had not yet identified a suspect, but were searching the home of a possible “person of interest.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Hundreds of federal investigators continued their search on Saturday for a suspect and motive behind the bomb that obliterated much of a a downtown Nashville street early on Christmas morning and injured three people.
A number of media outlets reported Saturday that police were searching for a “person of interest” in connection with the explosion, whom CBS News identified as 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner.
Federal agents converged on Warner’s home in Antioch, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon and conducted a search. Warner owned an RV that appeared to be a similar make and model to the one used in Friday’s explosion, according to CBS.
Authorities said Friday they believed the blast was “intentional.”
Police and witnesses reported that the RV emitted an audio recording warning that a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes and urging them to flee.
One local business owner told The Tennessean that the RV had been there since at least Thursday night.
“It’s a miracle that no residents were killed,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee in a Saturday morning tweet. Lee said he and his wife toured the site where the explosion occurred and saw “shocking” damage.
—Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 25, 2020
Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced on Saturday that the city will enter a curfew until Sunday afternoon. “This is an active crime scene,” Cooper said. “I would encourage people not to come to downtown Nashville until that curfew is lifted.”
Tennessee’s governor requested federal aid to assist recovery efforts
President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden had been briefed on the incident, the Hill reported.
“The President is grateful for the incredible first responders and praying for those who were injured,” said White House spokesperson Judd Deere.
On Saturday morning, Gov. Lee tweeted out a request for Trump to declare an emergency and allocate federal aid to support recovery efforts.
“Preliminary reports show 41 businesses were damaged by the explosion. These buildings, many of which are historic, and others will need to be assessed by an engineer for structural integrity and safety,” he wrote in a letter requesting emergency assistance.
“The severity and magnitude of the current situation is such that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments,” he added in the letter. “As a result, federal assistance under the Stafford Act is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources.”
The Stafford Act allows a president to declare an incident or circumstance a national emergency and move federal resources to aid those affected by it.
—Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) December 26, 2020
‘It felt like a bomb.’
Buck McCoy, who lives near the area, told the Associated Press: “All my windows, every single one of them got blown into the next room. If I had been standing there it would have been horrible.”
“It felt like a bomb. It was that big,” he added. Local reports said the explosion could be heard from miles away.
Police say the explosion occurred outside a building on Second Avenue North. They closed a 10-block radius around the explosion site.
Authorities are not aware of whether anyone was inside the vehicle.
CBS News first reported that possible human remains were found near the explosion, but law enforcement told the outlet it’s still unclear whether the remains belonged to a victim or someone connected to the explosion.
Local and federal agencies, including the FBI, are investigating the incident, according to a press release from the Nashville Police Department. The area has been shut down to accommodate the investigation.
The Federal Aviation Administration has temporarily barred pilots from flying through the airspace above the explosion cite, classifying it as “national Defense Airspace,” according to ABC affiliate WKRN. Pilots flying into the area “may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by law enforcement/security personnel,” WKRN reported.
As the Tennessean reported, the explosion caused damage to AT&T facilities, which affected service for some in Nashville and other nearby areas, a spokesperson told the outlet. Flights from the Nashville International Airport and emergency lines like 911 access to police was also disrupted as a result of the explosion, the Tennessean reported.
AT&T is actively working with local authorities to repair services, as well as dispatched national disaster recovery teams to fix the problem, the company said in a statement Friday evening.
“Power is essential to restoring wireless and wireline communications and we are working with law enforcement to get access to our equipment and make needed repairs. Given the damage to our facility, it will take time to restore service,” the statement said. “We have already rerouted significant traffic from this facility and are bringing in other equipment, including numerous portable cell sites to the area.”
In a tweet shortly after the incident, Gov. Lee expressed his condolences for those injured.
“We will supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible,” he said, adding he is “praying for those who were injured and we thank all of our first responders who acted so quickly this morning.”
This story is developing. Please check back for more updates.