The Christmas morning bombing in Nashville left a wake of destruction that was captured in dramatic photos and videos that made downtown Music City look more like Baghdad or Beirut.
Cellphone footage shot shortly after the massive blast caught victims wailing in panic and screaming for help as flames consumed vehicles parked along North Second Avenue and black smoke filled the sky.
Other shots revealed gaping holes that were once storefronts in historic brick buildings, with broken glass, charred tree limbs and rubble littering the street.
The explosion, which could be felt for blocks, rocked the city just as dawn was breaking around 6:30 a.m.
Officials said cops were already at the scene, having responded to a report of shots fired about 30 minutes earlier.
When they got there, officers found an RV playing a recorded message that warned “a potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes,” Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said during an afternoon news conference.
A YouTube video, which Vice Mayor Jim Shulman seemed to confirm as authentic during a CNN interview, has audio of a female voice repeatedly saying, “If you can hear this message, evacuate now” just before the blast.
A bomb squad was on the way when the motorhome exploded in what officials described as an “intentional act.”
Three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said, and CBS News reported Friday evening that what appeared to be human remains were found near the blast site.
It was unclear if the remains were from a victim or perpetrator of the explosion, CBS said.
Federal officials didn’t say if the blast was being treated as an act of terror, but Nashville US Attorney Don Cochran said the “entire resources of the Department of Justice” were being devoted to the investigation.
Cops later released an image of the RV, saying, “It arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m.” and asking for anyone with information to contact them or the FBI.
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