The explosion occurred at 6:30 on Friday. CT, after a computer-controlled voice from a parked white mobile home told people to evacuate aloud and warned that the vehicle would explode within minutes.
The explosion of the van injured at least three people, set several other vehicles on fire, destroyed several buildings in the area and disabled wireless communication in a large part of the area.
At a press conference on Saturday, law enforcement officials provided little new information on the progress of the investigation, but the FBI Special Agent responsible for the investigation, Douglas Cornesky, said that investigators are working on the case on several fronts.
First of all, our research team turns every stone to make sure we know as many details as possible to answer the question of who is responsible and also to understand why they did it, he said.
The FBI behavioral analysis team in Quantico, Virginia, is involved, as are some 250 FBI agents who work on-site with law enforcement partners.
Second, our evidence-gathering teams are willing to document and gather all the evidence to support the facts established by the investigation team, he said.
While the investigation is ongoing, there is no sign of an active manhunt, suggesting that the investigators are not looking for someone who is still a danger to the community, several law enforcement sources told CNN.
Among the questions researchers are trying to answer, sources have indicated that the AT&T transmission building damaged by the explosion was the target of the explosion.
When asked if the AT&T building was a target, Mr. Cornesky said yes Saturday: We’re looking for all kinds of patterns.
Officials said they were convinced the explosion was deliberate. However, the Christmas date, the early morning hours and the unusual warnings from the loudspeaker before the explosion suggest that it was not an attempted mass murder.
Apparently it was done when no one was around, Nashville Mayor John Cooper said Friday.
No witnesses died in the explosion. However, investigators found tissue that they believe to be human remains near the blast site, said Nashville Police Chief John Drake.
The explosion hit at least 41 companies on Second Avenue in Nashville, a street with many historic buildings. In order to guarantee the structural integrity of the affected buildings, the city has cordoned off the area and will not let anyone through until Sunday afternoon.
It will take some time before the Second Avenue is back to normal, Cooper said.
Bill Lee announced Saturday that he had asked President Donald Trump for an emergency statement following a visit to the facility earlier in the day.
The damage is shocking, and it’s a miracle no residents have been killed, the governor said.
Morning shots for the warning
Several residents told CNN that they were woken by gunfire on Friday morning. Police said they were called to the scene after gunshots were reported around 5:30.
Upon arrival at the scene, the police found a white van parked in front of the AT&T transmission building on 166 Second Ave. North. According to the police, the mobile home repeatedly sends out a message warning of an explosion within 15 minutes.
The car will explode in 15 minutes, said the voice, according to Betsy Williams, who lived in the Second Avenue apartment. After repeating this message for one minute, the voice said the car would explode within 14 minutes, and continued the countdown from there.
Fault! The file name is not specified.
The six uniformed police officers who heard the news immediately started knocking on doors and evacuating the residents. Mayor Cooper greeted them as heroes and said their swift action had saved lives.
When the countdown came to an end, the message from the camper changed, the surveillance video of a building across the street appeared.
When you hear this message, evacuate now, the voice says around 6:30. If you hear this message, you must evacuate immediately.
Then the car exploded in a flash of intense light.
Three civilians have been hospitalized and are in stable condition, the officials said. The force of the explosion knocked down one officer, police spokesman Don Aaron said, and caused hearing loss in another. However, no officers have been seriously injured.
Authorities don’t know if anyone was in the van when it exploded. Police also tweeted a photo of the recreational vehicle when it entered the area at 1:22. Friday.
As the investigation progresses, officials will search the area for any physical evidence, according to Andrew McCabe, a CNN law enforcement analyst and former deputy director of the FBI. However, given the scale of the explosion, important clues may be scattered across much of the crime scene.
The most important question to be answered at this point is who was behind the bombing, McCabe said.
We need to find out who put that thing there and blew it up, he said. Only when you realize that, do you start talking about things like motive or goal.
Area closed to the public
Williams, an eyewitness, told CNN that she was in the car with her family when the van exploded in a fireball.
It’s just, I mean, it’s all messed up. It was a real explosion, she told Anderson Cooper from CNN.
Fault! The file name is not specified.
Three cars were set on fire. The trees had fallen. There were bricks and glass everywhere. Another resident said the scene of the destruction looked like a doomsday movie.
AT&T spokesman, Jim Greer, told CNN that the explosion damaged the company’s network hub in the city and also damaged services in the Nashville area. AT&T is the parent company of CNN.
On Saturday, the company said it was working around the clock to fix the malfunctions that had occurred. However, the teams on site had problems, including the need to evacuate the building due to a fire that started during the night.
The street is located on the edge of the touristic and friendly neighborhood of Nashville in the historic part of town.
Technical experts from the FBI lab and evidence collection teams were brought in from across the country to help deal with this mass crime, said the FBI Deputy Special Agent responsible for the case, Matt Foster.
The special agent in charge of the ATF, Mickey French, said his agency has activated its national response teams and is working with the FBI and the Nashville police. The agency has explosives experts, chemists and engineers involved in evidence retrieval.
Steve Almasy, Paul P. Murphy, Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupets of CNN contributed to this report.