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The explosion that shook a historical Nashville Street in the hours before dawn on Christmas Day came after a motor home repeatedly warned of an impending explosion.

Authorities have yet to say how or why the RV exploded.

But policeman provided a timeline of what led up to the explosion, information that, combined with eyewitness accounts, shows the unusual timing of the incident.

“It was clearly done when no one was there,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said.

Investigators investigating the Christmas morning explosion in Nashville now believe that the explosion was likely the result of a suicide bombing.
Investigators investigating the Christmas morning explosion in Nashville now believe that the explosion was likely the result of a suicide bombing. (Supplied)

Here’s what we know about what happened in Nashville before the explosion.

A square white caravan arrived on 2nd Avenue North in downtown Nashville at 1:22 a.m. CT on Friday, police said.

Several hours later, Betsy Williams said she was woken up by what sounded like rapid shots.

“It sounded like an automatic weapon,” he said, and said it was “disconcerting.”

About five to 10 minutes later, he heard the sound again, so he called 911.

Minutes later, he heard gunshots for the third time, so he called 911 again.

Buck McCoy said he was also woken up by what he thought was gunshots.

He got up and looked out the window, he said, but went back to bed when he saw nothing.

Police said they were called to the scene after a report of gunfire around 5.30 a.m.

Police and firefighters respond to an explosion on Christmas morning in Nashville.
Police and firefighters respond to an explosion on Christmas morning in Nashville. (Nashville Fire Department)
Emergency personnel work near the scene of an explosion in downtown Nashville. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Police responding to the scene found a white motorhome parked in front of an AT&T broadcast building at 166 2nd Avenue North, a historic street in downtown Nashville.

The motorhome repeatedly broadcast a warning message of an explosion that would occur in 15 minutes, police said.

“Evacuate now,” said the computerized female voice from the vehicle in Nashville. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

“Evacuate now,” said the computerized female voice coming from the vehicle, according to Ms. Williams.

“This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes,” the voice said, according to Ms. Williams.

After repeating that message for a minute, the voice said the vehicle will explode in 14 minutes. The countdown was on.

“When time started, that’s when we said, ‘oh shit,'” he said. “We have to get out of here.”

Six uniformed police officers heard the message and immediately began knocking on doors and evacuating residents.

Ms. Williams, still in pajamas, and her family grabbed their cat and headed to their car to exit the immediate area.

He said he saw police cordon off 2nd Avenue to prevent anyone from crossing it.

David Malloy was walking his dog, a black German shepherd named DJ, when he noticed police cars on every corner.

Then he heard a voice he thought was coming from a police car telling people to “evacuate” and “please back off.”

Smoke rises from downtown after a reported explosion in Nashville. (Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean via AP)

As the countdown drew to a close, the message emanating from the RV changed, according to surveillance video taken from a building across the street.

“If you can hear this message, evacuate now,” the voice said around 6.30 am. “If you can hear this message, evacuate now.”

Then an explosion and a blinding flash.

Nashville explosion seen from inside restaurant in security video
Nashville explosion seen from inside restaurant in security video (CNN)
A burning vehicle after an explosion in the Second and Commerce St. (Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean via AP)

Malloy, with his dog, said he asked an officer if they were supposed to evacuate when he saw the explosion.

“It was just this huge fireball explosion,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do with it.”

Ms. Williams and her family saw the explosive fireball while driving down 2nd Avenue, she said.

“Everything just, I mean, everything shook. It was wonderful,” he said.

The aftermath of the explosion. (Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean via AP)

When Buck McCoy looked outside, he saw fallen trees everywhere and broken glass strewn across the street.

“Everything in the street was fire,” he said. “There were three cars that were completely wrapped up.”

A member of law enforcement personnel walks past the damage caused by an explosion in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday, December 25, 2020. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a noise was heard. loud roar on Christmas morning. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey) (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)
Emergency personnel work near the scene of an explosion in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday, December 25, 2020. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard early in the morning. of Christmas. ( (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Mayor John Cooper said Friday that the explosion was caused by a “deliberate bomb” intended to create chaos.

Three people were taken to hospitals from the scene, but none of them are in critical condition, said Joseph Pleasant, the Nashville Fire PIO.

The force of the blast knocked down one officer and caused hearing loss in another, police said, but no officers were seriously injured.

Police Chief John Drake said investigators found tissue near the blast site that could be human remains.

A K-9 team works in the area of ​​an explosion in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday, December 25, 2020. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud bang was heard early in the morning. Christmas morning. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

The blast destroyed at least 41 businesses and one building partially collapsed, authorities said.

Concerned about the structural integrity of the affected buildings, the city cordoned off the area and will not allow anyone to enter until Sunday afternoon.

“It will be some time before 2nd Ave is back to normal,” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper.


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