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Possible human tissue found near Nashville explosion site, police say

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Posted at 6:22 AM, Dec 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-26 00:39:45-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — According to the Associated Press, authorities have found human remains in the vicinity of the explosion in downtown Nashville.

Two law enforcement officials told The AP on condition of anonymity that it's unclear if the remains are related to the explosion or whether they might belong to the person believed to be responsible or a victim.

Citing law enforcement sources, CBS News reported that human remains were found at the explosion site. However, it's unclear if the "remains are from someone connected to explosion or from innocent victim."

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During a press conference Friday, Mayor John Cooper said 41 separate businesses were heavily damaged in the explosion. Cooper added that the city is resilient and will rebuild.

"The message today is that we are going from relief now to resolve," Cooper said. "To catch those folks, rebuild our city and one more challenge of 2020, but we will get through it."

Metro Police officials said tissue was found at the explosion site, but Chief John Drake could not confirm if it was a human victim of the incident. The AP said the remains were human, but could not confirm how the remains were related to the explosion.

"When I was briefed this morning of the explosion, I thought it was going to be a propane tank explosion from an RV, but it turned out to be an intentional act," Chief Drake said.

Metro Nashville police have also released a surveillance photo of an RV before it exploded early Friday morning in downtown.

According to police, the vehicle arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m. Anyone with information on it should call Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463 or report it online via http://fbi.gov/nashville.

The explosion has caused AT&T outages throughout the area and has affected the 911 lines for local law enforcement.

Additionally, the FAA has temporarily halted flights out of Nashville due to the ongoing telecommunications issues. Nashville International Airport said they expect the issues to be resolved and anticipate service to resume by 3 p.m. CT.

The FBI has now taken the lead in the investigation into the large explosion that caused massive damage and injured three people.

The blast was felt across much of Davidson County around 6:30 a.m. Metro police said the explosion has been linked to a vehicle outside 166 Second Avenue N., the location of an AT&T data center downtown.

Metro police said there is no other imminent danger to the public, but out of precaution K-9s are sweeping the area.

During a morning press conference, Metro police said they believe the explosion was an "intentional act." Federal agents say the bureau has not yet determined the motive or if the explosion was in fact intentional. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is also assisting with K-9s.

Authorities provided the most recent update around noon. Watch below:

The FBI opened an online tip line for anyone who may have information on the explosion. Agents said anyone with information can also call 1-800-CALL-FBI. The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation (NCVC) has offered a $25,500 reward for information in the case.

Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said police received a report of a suspicious vehicle outside of the AT&T transmission building and upon investigating the report, officers called the hazardous devices unit. The vehicle was playing a warning message for anyone in the area to evacuate, police said. Officers then went door-to-door to evacuate the area.

About an hour after the report of a suspicious vehicle, the vehicle exploded.

Witnesses told investigators they heard gunshots early in the morning and a message coming from an RV parked in the street warning anyone in the area to evacuate before beginning to count down to an explosion. Police have confirmed that the RV was broadcasting a message. Video posted to YouTube appears to capture the reported warning message seconds before the blast.

Warning, some may find the below video disturbing:

Three people have been taken to the hospital, but officials say none of the injuries have been reported as critical. Metro police said an officer suffered hearing loss from the explosion, but the department is hoping the hearing loss is only temporary.

Traffic to the downtown area has been restricted on Friday morning. An Emergency Operations Center has been activated in response to the explosion.

Nashville firefighters have asked everyone in the area to move at least two blocks away due to concerns about any possible other explosions.

WeGo Public Transit said it will suspend all bus service at 11 a.m. and will close WeGo Central as a precaution.

Heavy smoke and damage were seen in the Second Avenue area. Police said debris from the blast was found near the old Metro Courthouse and near the downtown pedestrian bridge.

Photos: Explosion in downtown Nashville causes heavy smoke, damage

The deputy assistant to President Donald Trump said the president has been briefed on the explosion.

CBS News reported that President-Elect Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation, as well.

Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper have released statements in response to the explosion.

This story was originally published by Caroline Sutton on WTVF in Nashville, Tennessee.