An investigation into the Christmas Day bombing that rocked Nashville is underway with nearly 500 leads and multiple agencies working to identify those responsible for the “outrageous and cowardly attack.”
During the early hours of Dec. 25, a recreational vehicle exploded outside an AT&T facility. The incident left three people with minor injuries and seriously damaged nearby buildings.
Just before the vehicle exploded, it broadcast a terrifying message, warning passersby, "If you can hear this message, evacuate now.”
Doug Korneski, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Memphis office, gave insight during a Saturday press conference into the scale of the investigation. Since the explosion, he said, authorities had fielded nearly 500 tips and leads.
“There are approximately 250 FBI agents, analysts, and professional staff from at least eight surrounding field offices and FBI headquarters. They're working shoulder to shoulder with our partners. Our team is addressing this case on several fronts,” Korneski explained.
This includes gathering physical evidence on site and using behavior analysis to build up a picture of the perpetrator, he said.
Fielding questions from journalists, Korneski declined to identify any single individual as a person of interest, saying that there were “a number of individuals that we’re looking at."
A USA Today journalist later shared a video on Twitter of authorities apparently searching a house in Nashville, but it's unclear what connection, if any, it had to the incident.
US Attorney Don Cochran paid tribute to the residents of Nashville and commended six police officers for their bravery and willingness to risk their lives in the line of duty.
“Metro Nashville police officers, just [a] number of blocks north of here, didn't run away from danger, literally ran to danger — [a] vehicle that was announcing that it was going to blow up. And Metro Nashville police officers, instead of heading in the other direction, headed towards that. They evacuated that area, got all the citizens out of there,” he said. “I'm confident that their actions are part of the reason why there was less cost of life in this heinous act.”
Nashville Metro Police Chief John Drake assured the public that the city was safe and shared his confidence that there were no further threats for residents to be concerned about.
“We feel that we have no known threats at this time against our city. We've been in communication and feel pretty good about that,” he said.
Drake did not offer any update on tissue discovered on the site, which was to be examined to establish whether it is from human remains. During an earlier news conference, the police chief told the public, “We have found tissue that we believe could be remains, and we will have that examined and we will be able to let you know from that point.”
Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a curfew in the area where the explosion happened to allow for the investigation to take place.
Cooper confirmed that at least 41 local businesses had been “materially damaged” as a result of the blast and that it would be “some time before Second Avenue is back to normal.”