Police have recovered human remains near the site of Nashville bomb blast, an early indication that those behind the massive explosion could have been suicide bomber(s).
It was not, however, clear whether the human remains belonged to the bomber(s).
Officials are now working to identify the individual(s) behind the early morning attack. Details remain sketchy as officials look into all evidence being recovered from the site of the blast.
A curfew has been instituted around the site of the blast to preserve the evidence. The curfew started around 4.30 p.m. local time and will go through Sunday afternoon.
At least 40 businesses were damaged in the blast, Mayor John Cooper of Nashville said at a press briefing on Friday night.
A bomb blast rocked downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas Day, sending buildings shaking as far as nine blocks away, and leaving at least three people injured.
Eye witness Betsy Williams speaking on CNN described what she heard before the bomb went off. She said there were gunshots and a “computerized” message warning people to evacuate the area before the bomb went off.
She said the first time she heard the gunshots was between 4.30 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Christmas Day. She said after hearing the gunshots again and siting an RV out the window they called 911.
She said after hearing the gunshots for third time, they called 911 again before they eventually came.
U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been briefed on the Nashville explosion in the state of Tennessee on Christmas Day, his office said in a brief statement.
“President-elect Biden has been briefed on the explosion in Nashville, TN. The president -elect and Dr. Biden thank all the first responders working today in response to the incident, and wish those who were injured a speedy recovery,” Biden’s office said.
“This appears to have been an intentional act,” Nashville Metro Police tweeted.
“MNPD, FBI & ATF investigating the 6:30 a.m. explosion on 2nd Ave N linked to a vehicle. This appears to have been an intentional act. Law enforcement is closing downtown streets as investigation continues,” the Metro Police said.
At a briefing, the Nashville police spokesperson, Don Aaron, said police dogs were searching the area to make sure there are “no secondary devices”, and that down downtown Nashville has been sealed off.
Police said everything started with a 911 call reporting gunshots in the area. When officers arrived, they heard a pre-recorded message in a vehicle that it will explode within 15 minutes.
The first responders then alerted the department’s hazardous devices unit. That unit was on its way when a “significant explosion” happened, sending three people to hospital with injuries.
The vehicle in question was a recreational vehicle often abbreviated as RV, the type of motor vehicle or trailer which includes quarters designed for accommodation.
Police released the picture of the RV on Friday afternoon and called for help from members of the public.
Police in Nashville wrote: “BREAKING: 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. @ATFHQ.”
Preliminary facts seem to indicate the explosion was not designed to cause mass casualties.
It also appears as though law enforcement officers were drawn to the area deliberately, and might have been the target, although it was too early to say.
The White House said President Donald Trump has been briefed, getting updates and is praying for the people who were injured. The president also thanked the first responders.
The FBI in Memphis will be taking over the investigation to provide more resources, the agency said. It is no clear yet whether police have determined that the massive explosion that was heard miles away was a terrorist act.
“It looks like a bomb went off,” Mayor John Cooper said after touring the damage.
The mayor said he saw broken glass and water mains with insulation “blown up” into the trees. He said it was too soon for any conclusions.
Cooper said the downtown area will be sealed off for further investigations and to make sure everything is “completely safe.” “One more event in Nashville’s 2020,” the mayor added.
Authorities said they believe the massive explosion was an “intentional act” sparked by a vehicle. The initial conclusion pointed to an act of domestic or foreign terror.
Police responded to a suspicious vehicle parked outside the AT&T building just before 6 a.m.
However, police said upon arrival, an officer “had reason” to alert the department’s hazardous devices unit.
That unit was on its way when a “significant explosion” happened, sending three people to hospital with injuries.
The fire department said a bomb squad was on the scene with an active investigation by Metro police and federal agencies. Residents and others were asked to avoid the area.
Cable news showed images and videos taken in the areas displaying flames and smoke that could be seen miles away.
Reports said alarms inside several buildings were heard going off with water pouring into some buildings.