A large explosion occurred in Nashville early Christmas morning, damaging multiple buildings in the downtown area.
A parked RV exploded at 6:29 a.m. local time Friday in the Second Avenue and Broadway area, near Commerce Street, the Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management told WKRN News 2.
Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said authorities believe the explosion was intentional.
Three people have been taken to the hospital for injuries that were not said to be critical, according to Nashville Fire Department spokesman Joseph Pleasant.
The surrounding area remains shut down as the blast is investigated.
Just before 6 a.m., authorities responded to reports of a suspicious vehicle that was parked outside the AT&T building, the Nashville Tennessean reports.
“It looks like a bomb went off,” said Mayor John Cooper when he surveyed the damage.
Speaking to reporters, the mayor said that people who might seek out attention sometimes think they can get it in the city or these types of acts.
“It’s not just New York and Los Angeles, it can be Nashville too,” he said. “This feels a little bit like a tragedy, you hate to use that word. … It was clearly done when nobody was going to be around. … It would be a different message if it was 5 p.m. on a Friday.”
Cooper added that “mental health obviously becomes a concern and consideration” but stipulated, “We shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
“It’s been quite a year. Adding (an) explosion to the list … just seems so 2020.”
Aaron told reporters that authorities received calls of shots fired in the area before the explosion took place. Though officers did not see evidence of shots fired, they did find the suspicious vehicle outside the AT&T building and called in the bomb squad.
The vehicle exploded while the bomb squad was responding, and it is not known whether anybody was inside at the time of the “significant explosion.”
Though there is currently no indication of a secondary device, explosive detection dogs are searching the area “out of an abundance of caution.”
“The immediate downtown area has been sealed off by law enforcement as we conduct this investigation,” which Aaron said is being conducted by the FBI, ATF, and the Metro Police Department.
Downtown buildings, particularly those on Second Avenue North, were being searched for people possibly still inside.
The blast “knocked one of our officers to the ground. Thankfully, no officers were significantly hurt,” said Aaron, who noted, one officer sustained what “we hope is temporary hearing loss.”
Some people have been taken to the local precinct for questioning.
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