Nashville Mayor to Focus on Catching RV Bomber and 'Going From Relief Now to Resolve'

The mayor of Nashville has said he is focused on catching whoever was behind the intentional explosion that damaged the downtown area of the city on Friday, adding he is relieved there were not more casualties.

Mayor John Cooper told reporters Friday night that "initial evidence does show that the early morning explosion was a deliberate bomb being set off in our community."

An RV parked on Nashville's Second Avenue in downtown exploded early Friday morning, damaging numerous buildings in the area. The streets were quiet given the early hour and the fact it was Christmas Day, but investigators have found what they believe are human remains at the site.

Three people were hospitalized with injuries. Police were aware of the RV and the bomb squad was on route when the vehicle exploded. Police responded to reports of gunshots, but when they arrived found the RV broadcasting a warning saying: "Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode."

The voice then started a 15-minute countdown, during which time police went door-to-door evacuating residents and re-directed one dog walker away from the scene.

Cooper said he was relieved "that there were not more casualties. And that's an amazing thing that there were not, particularly when people begin to see the devastation on Second Avenue."

The mayor said authorities were pivoting "from relief now to a resolve to rebuild and not to be deterred, and to bring whoever was responsible for this to justice."

"This was a terrible day, but Nashville has faced other challenges, particularly this year. We can rebuild and get back to normal," Cooper added. "This morning's attack on our community was intended to create chaos and fear in this season of peace and hope, but the spirit of our city cannot be broken."

There are no known suspects and no clear motive for the explosion, which Cooper said damaged at least 41 businesses. The RV was parked outside the Nashville AT&T transmission building, and the carrier reported service disruptions in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

This included 911 access in several areas, while flights out of BNA Airport in Nashville were temporarily grounded due to related telecommunications issues.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt Foster said Friday afternoon: "We will find out who did this... This is our city, too. We're putting everything we have into finding who was responsible for what happened here today."

Cooper meanwhile issued a state of civil emergency at the explosion site and immediate surrounding area, meaning a curfew was in place there as of 4:30 p.m. Friday and will remain until 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said Friday he would "supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible." Lee also offered his prayers to those injured and thanks to the first responders "who acted so quickly this morning."

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, was briefed on the incident "and will continue to receive regular updates," White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said. "The president is grateful for the incredible first responders and praying for those who were injured."

Nashville Christmas explosion RV bomb damage scene
Police close off an area damaged by an explosion on Christmas morning on December 25, in Nashville, Tennessee. Terry Wyatt/Getty Images/Getty