Police and federal agents in Nashville are looking for clues to determine how and why a recreational vehicle (mobile home) was blown to pieces by an apparent Christmas Day explosion. The incident resulted in injuries to three people and damage to dozens of buildings in the downtown area, which is considered the American capital of country music.
The motorhome exploded at dawn on Friday, shortly after the police, who arrived at the scene after the shooting report, noticed the car and heard an automatic bomb warning from it.
Whether someone was inside the car is unknown, as is the method of the explosion. However, police said investigators are looking into what may be human remains found in the immediate vicinity of the explosion.
The police did not offer a possible motive. No one claimed responsibility for the incident, although Greater Nashville Police Department officials called the explosion “deliberate.”
Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting in the investigation.
Added to the mysterious nature of Friday’s incident was an eerie preamble reported by eyewitnesses: the sound of gunfire, followed by a woman’s voice, clearly generated by a computer, counting down every minute to the explosion.
The police tried to evacuate neighboring houses and called in sappers, who, however, arrived after the explosion.
Police later released a photo of a motorhome that they said arrived in the area about four hours before the explosion.
City Mayor John Cooper said a total of 41 businesses were affected.
Firefighters reported that three people were hospitalized with relatively minor injuries and are in stable condition. Authorities said prompt police action to clear the area of bystanders likely helped prevent other casualties.
Police Chief John Drake said authorities had not received reports of threats of attack until reports of gunfire at the start of the incident.
The explosion took place about two blocks from Lower Broadway, where some of Nashville’s famous concert venues are located.
Damage to the AT&T building, near which the explosion occurred, resulted in telephone disruptions, Internet and cable TV shutdowns in central Tennessee and parts of neighboring states, including Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia.