Thankfully no one died, but it’s far from clear whether that was the intent of this Christmas Day bombing in Nashville, Tennessee. As the CNN panel observers from drone footage, the extent of the damage indicates a powerful explosive was used in the “intentional act.” On the other hand, setting the explosive off in a business district on a holiday would be a strange decision if someone wanted to cause maximum casualties.
However, the targeting might have been more specific:
Nashville Police responded to a call of shots fired early this morning on the city’s historic 2nd Ave. Instead of gunfire, they found a suspicious RV that exploded as they called in a bomb squad.
The blast from the recreational vehicle knocked down an officer and left another with temporary hearing loss, according to MNPD spokesperson Don Aaron. The blast shattered windows and damaged buildings for several blocks.
At least three people have been transported to hospitals with injuries. The two taken to TriStar Centennial Medical Center were non-critical, according to a spokesperson.
“Any other morning, it would have been a much worse story,” Mayor John Cooper says.
Police do not know if anyone was inside the RV, but investigators believe the explosion was intentional. People who were on the street at the time are being interviewed by the FBI, which is leading the investigation.
At the moment, this appears to be an act of terrorism of some kind, although the FBI will have to make that determination itself. If it was an act of terrorism, it will be the most significant bombing in the US in years. Assuming that this was a terrorist act, it seems very unlikely to be foreign or foreign-inspired, as those attacks almost always target large numbers of civilians.
Given the sequence of events thus far, the target at least appears to be the police department in Nashville. The so-far bogus call of shots fired would have drawn a significant response from the police, and in fact did. Right now, the worry would be that the bomber might have set up a multi-level trap:
Nashville police say they were responding to reports of shots fired when they noticed a suspicious vehicle. As the police hazardous devices unit was en route to the scene, an explosion occurred. pic.twitter.com/LdVQ3RiG9u
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) December 25, 2020
As Campbell says, “there’s a lot we don’t know” at this point. But Campbell, a former FBI investigator himself, says that it’s clear that this wasn’t designed to be a mass casualty event, and it also doesn’t appear to have been designed to bring down buildings a la Oklahoma City 1995. It could be a statement bombing, although one in which no one has yet claimed responsibility. It could also be a trap to take out some police officers in the line of duty.
One thing Campbell notes is that the use of a vehicle should make it easier to track the perpetrators. That’s how they caught Timothy McVeigh in 1995 and the World Trade Center bombers in 1993. If the RV used in this explosion was stolen, though, it might not be all that helpful — but they’ll also be able to find the parts of the explosive device used, and that might help track them down as well. Let’s hope all of those avenues pay off.
If any more developments come today, I’ll update this post. Meanwhile, pray for the three injured officers, and have yourselves a merry Christmas.
Update: Hmmmmmmm ….
JUST IN: Nashville police say they arrived at a “shots fired” call Friday morning and encountered an RV with a recording “saying that a potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes.”
Police sought to evacuate the area before the RV exploded.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 25, 2020
If they were setting a trap for police, why have a recorded warning about a bomb? But if they weren’t setting a trap, why set off the bomb at all? One thing’s for sure — someone or some people went to a lot of trouble to conduct this bombing.
Update: Investigators tell CBS News that they found a body near the explosion, but aren’t sure whether it’s the perpetrator or an unfortunate victim:
Law enforcement sources tell CBS News they have found what appear to be human remains near the site of the explosion. They have not indicated whether the remains are from someone connected to the explosion or from an innocent victim.
Keep ears open on that development. Meanwhile, Nashville police hope someone recognizes the RV as it was when someone parked it for the attack:
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 https://t.co/dVGS7o0m4v. @ATFHQ pic.twitter.com/JNx9sDinAH
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 25, 2020