Downtown Nashville was rocked by an enormous Christmas Day explosion that hospitalized three people and could be heard from miles away.
According to the Tennessean, police were responding to a shots fired call near 2nd Avenue North and Commerce Street before 6 a.m. when they apparently found a suspicious recreational vehicle parked outside of the AT&T building located a block away on the corner of 3rd Avenue North.
CNN reports that officers who attended the scene did not find any evidence of shots fired, but found the vehicle, which was described as an RV.
Officers summoned the Nashville Police Department’s bomb squad. The squad was enroute when the RV exploded. No officers were injured in the explosion, but one has suffered hearing loss.
Police spokesman Don Aaron said: “We do believe this to have been an intentional act.”
A video was posted on Youtube containing security footage from an area near the blast. The video contains an audio feed and a speaker appears to be broadcasting an automated female voice repeating: “All buildings in this area must be evacuated now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now.”
27 seconds into the video, a blast detonates to the right of the frame. Car alarms can be heard. 30 seconds pass until the video feed returns, now displaying in black and white. Debris litters the streets and trees are damaged when the feed returns.
The Youtube account that posted the video was registered in May of 2014. This video is its only upload.
Nashville Chief of Police John Drake said in a press conference that the RV was broadcasting the message, further elaborating the recording said it would detonate within 15 minutes.
Both the FBI and the ATF are investigating alongside local authorities, while acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has instructed the Department of Justice to render all of its resources available in the investigation.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper toured the scene and described buildings with shattered glass and streets with broken water mains, estimating approximately 20 buildings had been damaged in the downtown core.
“It looks like a bomb went off,” he told the Tennessean.
The Nashville Fire Department posted images of the damage on their Twitter, including one that looked like a large crater spanning the middle of the street at the intersection of Commerce Road, while Twitter user @TonyHusband posted pictures he took from the other side of the intersection showing extreme damage.
Buck McCoy, a local Nashville country music singer, posted on his Facebook video from the scene of damaged buildings such as the Old Spaghetti Factory small fires, active water damage, widespread debris, and panicked residents.
“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,” he told the Associated Press.
“There were about four cars on fire. I don’t know if it was so hot they just caught on fire, and the trees were all blown apart.
“It felt like a bomb. It was that big.”