Nashville police have released a photo of the RV investigators believe isthat tore through a downtown neighborhood Christmas morning. They are asking anyone with information to contact investigators with tips.
The photo was apparently taken from a security camera showing the RV near Commerce Street and Second Avenue overnight. The explosion went off in front of the AT&T building on Second Avenue at around 6:30 a.m.
“This is the RV that exploded on 2nd Ave N this morning. It arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m. Have you seen this vehicle in our area or do you have information about it? Please contact us via Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463 or online via http://fbi.gov/nashville,” police said in a tweet along with the photo.
At a briefing Friday afternoon, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said officers had received a call of “shots fired” in the area at about 5:30 a.m.
“As officers responded, they encountered an RV that had a recording saying a that potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes. Officers, upon hearing that, decided to evacuate the buildings nearby, so they began knocking on doors, making announcements … to get people safe.”
“Shortly after that, the RV exploded,” Drake said.
Police spokesman Don Aaron said investigators do not yet know whether anyone was in the RV at the time of the blast.
The explosion caused extensive damage to nearby buildings and shattered windows in the surrounding area. Three people were reported hospitalized but police said the injuries were not critical.
Federal agents are now taking the lead on the investigation, and they also urged members of the public to come forward with any information.
“Please tell us what you know. We need your leads, we need your help,” said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Matt Foster.
CBS affiliate WTVF reports the blast could be felt across much of Davidson County around 6:30 a.m.
One eyewitness, Noelle Rasmussen, said in an interview on CBSN that her family was awakened early Christmas morning by police knocking on their door and telling them to evacuate immediately due to a safety threat in the neighborhood. As they were driving away, she turned and saw “a huge explosion” tear through the street.
There was “a big orange fireball up in the air, about twice as tall as our building,” she said. “It looks like the whole front side of our building’s been blown off.”
“I’m so glad we left. I’m so glad we have our kids. And above anything else, I am so glad for those officers that walked into a building that they knew was a dangerous spot to be and, you know, woke us up and got us out. I’m so grateful.”