An explosion shook the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early Christmas morning, shattering windows, damaging buildings and wounding three people. Authorities said they believed the blast was intentional. The FBI is leading the investigation.
Police spokesperson Don Aaron said the 6:30 a.m. explosion, which broke glass and damaged buildings, was believed to be “an intentional act.” Police earlier said they believe a vehicle was involved in the explosion. Three people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, although none were in critical condition, Aaron said.
The FBI will be taking the lead in the investigation, said spokesperson Joel Siskovic. 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.
‘It felt like a bomb’
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 told The Associated Press. “It felt like a bomb. It was that big.”
“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.”
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.”