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Nashville explosion: Investigators search Antioch address Saturday as hundreds of tips pour in

A person of interest has been identified in connection with the Christmas day explosion in Nashville, a law enforcement source confirmed Saturday. No arrests have been made. 

Investigators with the FBI, ATF and the Metro Nashville Police Department converged to the 100 block of Bakertown Road in Antioch just before 11 a.m. 

Investigation in Antioch

Local and federal agents have been in an out of a duplex for “court authorized activity” following information from the investigation, according to Darrell DeBusk, an FBI public affairs officer. 

DeBusk said no arrest has been made. 

A team wearing tactical gear marked with both ATF and FBI insignias entered the residence and cleared the home around 2:30 p.m. The bomb squad confirmed no one was inside, according to FBI personnel at the scene. An evidence team entered the residence around that time to conduct a search. 

Neighbors told The Tennessean an RV similar to the one in the explosion was parked at the home within the last two weeks.

There was no sign of a similar vehicle at the Antioch residence on Saturday. 

Authorities declined to comment on the activity in Antioch during an afternoon update. 

Stephen Stone, 61, lives on the street and said he recalled seeing the RV parked outside the home. Most of the homes on the street aside from his are rentals, he said.

“I am fairly confident we’ll be able to identify an individual or ascertain what has occurred. We’ve just been taking some time,” said Douglas Korneski, special agent in charge of the Memphis Field Office.

500 tips, no known threats

The FBI, leading the case, said more than 500 tips have been reported in the past 24 hours. The investigation continues, including working with its behavioral analysis unit in Quantico. 

“Let me reiterate that Nashville is safe. We feel and know that we have no known threats at this time,” Metro Police Chief John Drake said Saturday. 

He urged the public to be patient as officials work to clear the crime scene as quickly as possible to allow residents and businesses to return. 

Nashville was startled awake Christmas morning by the sound of a large explosion downtown that is still being investigated. 

Several blocks surrounding the bombing site remained locked down Saturday morning as authorities continued to investigate the crime scene that left three people injured and the discovery of what may be human remains. 

Fire Chief William Swann said the three people were treated for minor injuries and release almost released Friday.

Officials working around the clock were seen guarding the perimeter as detectives along with agents from the FBI and ATF try to determine what caused the blast out of a parked RV — which they’ve declared was an intentional act. 

AT&T deploys portable cell sites, reports overnight fire

An AT&T outage connected to the explosion continued to affect many customers and 911 operations Saturday. Outages occurred several hours after the blast as the company said building damage and access to power has been an issue. 

AT&T said a fire reignited overnight inside the building, leading to an evacuation. Currently teams are on site working with safety and structural engineers drilling access holes into the building and attempting to reconnect power to critical equipment. 

Nashville Fire Department Chief William Swann said restoring services could take days to complete. 

He was hopeful the repairs could be made within the next two days.

“We’re working closely with them to ensure we can get communication established back safely,” he said at a Saturday afternoon news conference. “They’re here to work 24 hours a day, it’s a big operation with the building itself.” 

The company has deployed two portable cell sites operating in downtown with many other portable sites deployed in the region.

Teams are also working “quickly as possible” on rerouting additional services to other facilities in the region. 

The company sent national disaster recovery teams to the Nashville area Friday. 

Users around the country reported disruptions in service, but there was a concentration in the Nashville area and around Middle Tennessee, growing in reach from Kentucky to Alabama as more reports came in.

Flights were temporarily halted out of Nashville International Airport on Friday afternoon because of communications issues stemming from the explosion. By evening, most flights had resumed but the potential for delays remained.

City portal, shelter set up for resources and assistance 

Metro has set up a new hubNashville portal for those seeking assistance and resources. 

Residents can submit requests for help, business support and also sign up for volunteer opportunities. There’s also a link to submit any tips about the explosion to the FBI. People can also call 615-862-7400 with any information. 

The city is also working with the American Red Cross to house and give resources to the dozens of residents displaced or affected by the explosion. 

A reception center has been set up at East Park Community Center at 700 Woodland Street. 

Investigators walk through the scene of the explosion on Second Avenue on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

What happened downtown Christmas morning

Reports of shots fired were made to Nashville police at 5:30 a.m.

Nashville police and fire crews responded the area of Second Avenue and Commerce Street and saw no evidence of any shooting.

Instead, they noticed a suspicious RV parked outside an AT&T building before 6 a.m. Friday, according to police. Officers and witnesses heard a recording from the RV giving a dire warning: “Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode.” 

At least six Nashville police officers acted quickly to start evacuating people from nearby buildings after alerting the department’s hazardous devices unit. 

A 15-minute countdown began to broadcast with the looped message playing in between. After the countdown was over, the message began to play again until around 6:30 a.m., when police said a “significant explosion” happened as the bomb squad was en route. 

Police and firefighters responded to the area about 6:45 a.m.

Metro police Chief John Drake said a motive in the explosion was not known, nor has a suspect or person of interest been named.https://www.usatodaynetworkservice.com/tangstatic/html/pnas/sf-q1a2z3be0d353f.min.html

Drake said it was unclear if anyone was inside the RV when it exploded. He confirmed “tissue” that “could be” human remains was found in the area of the explosion. Authorities are investigating to determine if it is connected with the explosion.

The investigation has focused on an older model RV that police said was spotted in the area after 1 a.m. Friday, hours before the explosion. 

Police released a surveillance photo of the vehicle and asked for the public’s help.

Nashville police released an image of an RV that investigators linked to an explosion that took place downtown on Christmas morning.

The FBI is leading the investigation with help from the ATF and other federal, state and local agencies. 

Several people were taken to the department’s central precinct for questioning, but authorities declined to give more details Friday. 

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