The explosion injured three people and damaged multiple buildings in the area

By Georgia Slater
Updated December 25, 2020 05:07 PM
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Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP/Shutterstock

Police are investigating an explosion that rocked downtown Nashville Christmas morning in what officials believe was an "intentional act."

Around 6 a.m. on Friday, officials with the Metro Nashville Police Department responded to reports of a suspicious RV outside of the AT&T building, police spokesperson Don Aaron said in a news conference, according to The Washington Post.

Shortly after, at 6:30 a.m., the RV exploded, sending thick black smoke through the air and blowing out the windows of nearby buildings.

Prior to the blast, a recorded message indicating that a bomb would explode in 15 minutes was heard coming from the RV, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said during a news conference, CNN reported.

A female voice was heard speaking the warning message ahead of the explosion, Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman told CNN.

"There were a number of people who did evacuate and then we know of some people, it didn't go off when the message said it would and so people started coming back in, and then it went off," he said.

According to ABC News, the explosion knocked one officer to the ground, caused hearing loss in another and caused three people to be hospitalized with minor injuries.

Nashville police said in a statement to PEOPLE that "multiple buildings along 2nd Avenue were damaged, some extensively."

"We do believe this to have been an intentional act," Aaron said at the press conference.

According to The Tennessean, the explosion could be heard from miles away and there were reports of windows shaking from South and East Nashville.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper said he estimated 20 buildings had been impacted by the blast and noted that the downtown area would be "sealed off" for further investigation.

Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP/Shutterstock
Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP/Shutterstock

The FBI is leading an investigation on the explosion with help from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Nashville police wrote on Twitter.

Buck McCoy, a nearby resident, told the Associated Press that the explosion "felt like a bomb."

"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," he said. "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."

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee responded to the explosion on Twitter, writing that the state would "supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible."

He said that he would be "praying for those who were injured" and expressed his appreciation for the first responders "who acted so quickly this morning."