Sat. Apr 17th, 2021

By KIMBERLEE KRUESI and THALIA BEATY, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, TENNEY. (AP) – A recreational vehicle parked on the deserted streets of downtown Nashville exploded early in the morning on Christmas morning, causing widespread communication outages, affecting police emergency systems and flights at the city’s airport. Officials said they believe the explosion was intentional.

Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said police were responding to a report of a shooting on Friday when they saw R.V. Facing a warning, the bomb will explode in 15 minutes. Police evacuated nearby buildings and called in the bomb squad.

“Shortly thereafter, the RV exploded,” Drake said in a midday news conference.

Surveillance video published Friday on a Twitter account appearing across the street before the explosion captured the warning issued from the RV, “… if you can hear this message, before the explosion,” now empty .

The blast sent black smoke and flames billowing through the area filled with Nashville’s tourist destination, honky-tonk, restaurants and shops. The explosion rocked buildings near the building owned by AT&T, which is a block away from the company’s office tower.

“We don’t know if it was a coincidence or if it was intended,” said police spokesman Don Aaron.

AT&T said the affected building is the central office of a telephone exchange that houses network equipment. The explosion disrupted service, but the company refused to say how the mass outages were.

“Service to some customers in Nashville and surrounding areas may be affected by the damage to our facilities by the explosion this morning. We are working as quickly and safely as possible to enforce the law and restore service, ”AT&T spokesman Jim Greer said in an email statement.

AT&T outage site showed service issues in between Tennessee And Kentucky, Including Bowling Green, approximately 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Nashville. Several police agencies reported that their 911 system was down because of the outage, which includes Marsfreesboro and Knox County, home to Knoxville, about 180 miles (290 kilometers) east of Nashville.

The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted flights outside Nashville International Airport due to issues related to the explosion.

Aaron said that after the explosion, three people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, although none were in critical condition. Authorities do not know if anyone was in the vehicle when the explosion occurred. Mayor John Cooper of Nashville said the city was lucky that the number of injuries was limited.

Aaron previously said some people were taken to the department’s central campus for questioning, but declined to provide more details.

Agency spokesman Joel Siskovic said the FBI would lead the investigation. Federal investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also at the scene. The FBI is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for investigating federal crimes, such as explosive violations and acts of terrorism.

A Philadelphia man living in a nearby hotel said that when he heard the explosion, he knew it was not harmless.

“We tried to rationalize that it was an earthquake or something, but it was clear that it was not an earthquake,” Joseph Fafara said. Compared to Philadelphia.

When he went to see the damage, police barricades had already been put in place. In the afternoon, police dogs continued to search for cars and buildings in the surrounding area.

Buck Mekoy, who lives near the area, has posted videos on Facebook that show water flowing down the roof of his house. Alarms blur in the background, along with people crying in distress. Fire is visible in the street outside.

McCoy said 15 minutes before the explosion he set his building on fire, set cars on the road and broke down trees.

“All my windows, every one of them were blown into the next room. It would have been terrible if I had stood there, ”he said.

“It felt like a bomb. It was big, ”he told The Associated Press.

President Donald Trump has been briefed, according to White House spokesman Jude Deere. The US Department of Justice said Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen was also briefed and directed that all department resources be made available to help with the investigation.

Tennessee Village. Bill Lee said on Twitter that the state would “provide the necessary resources to determine what happened and who was responsible.”

The American Red Cross of Tennessee announced that it was working with officials to open shelters for victims.

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington contributed. Reported beating New York.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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