An explosion linked to a vehicle rocked downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas morning, sending shattered glass and debris over a wide area and rocking nearby buildings. Authorities said they believed the blast was intentional. The FBI is leading the investigation.
About three hours after the explosion took place, Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson Don Aaron said authorities believe the explosion was “an intentional act.” Aaron said three people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, although none were in critical condition.
The police department initially said via Twitter that the explosion occurred at 6:30 a.m. Friday and that state and federal authorities were on the scene, as were emergency crews including the fire department.
The FBI will be taking the lead in the investigation, said spokesperson Joel Siskovic. Federal investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also on the scene. The FBI is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for investigating federal crimes, such as explosives violations and acts of terrorism. Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also on the scene.
Black smoke and flames were seen early Friday billowing from the area, which is packed with bars, restaurants and other retail establishments and is known as the heart of downtown Nashville's tourist scene.
Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard.
The Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management told Nashville television station WKRN that a parked recreational vehicle exploded and damaged several buildings. No injuries were immediately reported.
The fire department sent out a tweet asking residents and others to avoid the area.
Buck McCoy, who lives near the area, posted videos on Facebook that show water pouring down the ceiling of his home. Alarms blare in the background and cries of people in great distress ring in the background. A fire is visible in the street outside. McCoy said the windows of his home were entirely blown out.
"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 said.
"It felt like a bomb. It was that big," he told The Associated Press (AP).
"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.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said on Twitter that the state would provide the resources necessary “to determine what happened and who was responsible. Please join @MariaLeeTN and me in praying for those who were injured and we thank all of our first responders who acted so quickly this morning.”