A parked RV exploded in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas morning, leaving what authorities described as a “massive crime” scene. Several buildings were damaged, and three people were injured. You can see videos and photos throughout this article. WKRN-TV reported in a live broadcast that a warning message was “playing from the RV” before the blast.
CBS News is reporting that the person of interest in the bombing is Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, of the Nashville area. Authorities have not yet publicly confirmed the name. However, we ran an address linked to Warner in online records on Google Maps, and there is a very similar RV visible in the yard. Police previously released a picture of the RV that exploded in downtown Nashville. Here they are side-by-side.
Here’s another picture of the RV parked at the address that comes up for Warner.
Early on Christmas morning, officers received a mysterious shots fired call that first drew them to the scene. “They encountered an RV that had a recording that said a potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes,” police confirmed in a noon news conference on December 25. “Officers decided to evacuate the building nearby.” A short time later, the bomb went off, causing what authorities described as a “massive crime scene.” An officer was knocked off his feet, suffering temporary hearing loss.
“MNPD, FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation and ATF investigating the 6:30 a.m. explosion on 2nd Ave North linked to a vehicle. This appears to have been an intentional act. Law enforcement is closing downtown streets as investigation continues,” police wrote on their Facebook page.
WKRN-TV also reported in its live broadcast that a countdown message came from the RV right before it exploded. CBS News is reporting that authorities found human remains near the blast scene, but they haven’t said whether they are the suspect or a victim.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Video Captured the Recording Coming From the RV
The blast rattled Nashville, but it occurred on a quiet Christmas morning without loss of life; police say they initially responded to the shots fired call, but it hasn’t been confirmed yet whether gunfire actually occurred. This video captured what local television said appeared to be the message being broadcast from the RV and warning people to evacuate.
“If you can hear this message, evacuate now. This area must be evacuated now,” a woman’s recorded voice says in a monotone voice in the video.
One Facebook post claimed that the “RV was broadcasting a message that it contained a bomb and that we had limited time to evacuate. That went on for 20 minutes or so and then the message changed to a countdown. It said we had 15 minutes to evacuate.”
“An explosion linked to a vehicle occurred at 6:30 this morning outside 166 2nd Ave N downtown. Investigation active by MNPD & federal partners,” Metro Nashville Police confirmed in their first statement on the explosion.
Police haven’t released additional details, including any suspect or motive.
2. Nashville’s Mayor Joined Police in Saying the Blast ‘Seems Intentional’
The mayor and police quickly declared that the explosion had the hallmarks of an intentional act.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper said in a news conference, “As for the explosion, we’ve got great people working on it, and we’ll get to the bottom of it. It seems intentional, but I think it’s just a one-off event, and people should not be concerned about it. But in a year that has had everything else, let’s add an explosion to it.”
Nashville resident Buck McCoy went live from the scene.
“These are pictures from 2nd Avenue south. Windows were broken out from explosion area to Broadway. Please AVOID this area! Media staging is at 2nd Avenue south and KVB,” the Nashville Fire Department wrote. Debris filled the street.
Mayor Cooper tweeted, “At 6:32 Christmas morning, @MNPDNashville and @NashvilleFD responded to the scene of an explosion on 2nd Ave, approximately one block north of Broadway. Metro Police confirm the source of the explosion came from a vehicle. The cause of the explosion is under investigation with help from federal authorities. MNPD will share updates as they become available and is restricting downtown traffic. Be safe Nashville. Thank you to our emergency personnel for your quick response.”
3. Police Initially Responded to a Shots Fired Call
A police spokesman said in a news conference, “The immediate downtown area has been sealed off by law enforcement. A number of police dogs have been called and are now searching the area… to make sure there are no secondary devices. We have no indication there are secondary devices.” The search is occurring out of an “abundance of caution.”
He said the initial call, before the explosion, came in as a shots fired call. However, authorities have not yet confirmed whether shots actually were fired.
They saw that the “RV was parked there. There were circumstances about the RV that caused the officers to request the bomb squad.” He said police don’t know if anyone was physically inside the RV when it exploded.
4. An Officer Was Knocked to the Ground But No One Was Killed
When the explosion went off, it “knocked one of our officers to the ground,” the police spokesman said. No officers were severely hurt. One suffered temporary hearing loss. “There were a number of officers working a call when the explosion occurred,” he said. Officers are now “conducting searches of downtown buildings to make sure there’s no one in need of help.” Several buildings experienced damage.
Police closed a 10-block radius of the Tennessee city’s downtown, according to WSMV-TV.
Williams added, “Per scanners, Metro Police have identified an extended debris field that stretches up 2nd Ave to the old Metro Courthouse. This is about two city blocks. Nashville fire crews being told to back up ANOTHER two blocks from site of explosion in downtown area. Concerns: possible vehicle bombs left in area, potential radiation. All of this is PRECAUTIONARY at this point. Nashville police and fire setting up radiation monitors to assess situation in downtown area near explosion site. This is all precautionary at this point.”
According to WKRN-TV, the explosion occurred in the area of Second Avenue and Broadway near Commerce Street around 6:30 a.m. on Christmas Day.
5. Photos & Videos Capture the Devastation From the Explosion
Photos and videos show the damage. Smoke and flames were visible.
Windows were blown out.
On social media, people expressed concern. “It’s weird that a RV out of all vehicles is just parked casually downtown, we have a Rv and it’s certainly never been parked down town,” wrote one woman. Others raised concern that the explosion could be purposeful because it occurred on a Christian holiday.
A man who lives a block away from the explosion wrote, “It shook my whole building and blew out some windows.”
In June, the Tennessean caused controversy by publishing a paid advertisement from a “fringe religious group” that it says “featured a bizarre, pseudo-religious ‘prophecy,’ including the declaration of an impending nuclear attack in Nashville by ‘Islam.'” There’s no indication at this point that it’s linked to the Christmas Day explosion, though. Newspaper officials apologized for the ad.
Another journalist reported that the police bomb squad was making sure there weren’t car bombs in the area. NewsChannel5 reported that federal authorities were helping investigate. It’s not clear what ignited the explosion, but there was a fairly large blast zone.
A WKRN journalist, speaking in the second video down in this story, reported speaking to a man in the area who reported hearing what sounded like multiple gunshots. It’s not clear whether they really were gunshots, however.
Phil Williams, a reporter with NC5, wrote, “Explosion in downtown Nashville, apparently from parked vehicle on 2nd Ave. Fire department personnel being told to pull back two blocks from explosion site, concerned about potential vehicle bombs. Police bomb squad and fire hazmat team on scene.”