What we know about the federal investigation into an RV bomb that detonated in downtown Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN- Local and federal authorities are actively investigating the explosion of a recreational vehicle (RV) that broadcasted a warning to residents right before it blew up in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning.

According to police, officers arrived at the scene prior to the actual explosion because they had responded to reports of shots fired around 5:30 a.m. Upon arrival, officers found an RV parked in front of the AT&T building and no evidence of any shooting. 

A speaker system on the RV was broadcasting a warning about an imminent explosion and telling people to evacuate through what sounded like a recorded female voice. The dire warning was:

“Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode.”

After the recording, the voice started a 15-minute countdown. Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said in a statement:

“They heard the announcements coming from this vehicle, took them seriously and were working to seal the streets to protect folks. We think lives were saved by those officers doing just that.”

The explosion was so powerful that it knocked one of the officers to the ground, prompting police to bring in counselors. Aaron said:

“They went through a very traumatic experience.”

According to reports, tissue was found following the blast. Authorities are examining and investigating to confirm whether it could be human remains. There are no otherwise known fatalities from the blast and authorities had no advance warning in the days prior that the explosion was imminent.

Three people received non-critical injuries. Bricks toppled from buildings blocks away, trees were knocked to the ground, and streets had the charred look of a battleground. The damage from the explosion to the AT&T building next to the RV disrupted 911 emergency services and temporarily grounded planes at Nashville International Airport.

Authorities said that the explosion was deliberate and intentional. However, there are no known suspects nor motive behind the explosion.

Officials said that they were not sure if anyone had been inside the RV when it exploded. Police dogs sniffed for other explosive materials in the area, however, officials said they did not believe that other bombs were planted. Fire Chief William Swann said in a statement:

“There are a lot of moving parts.”

Matt Foster, an assistant special agent in charge with the FBI, the leading agency in the investigation, said that authorities are combing through what he called a “massive crime scene” and are not yet sure who was behind the terrifying explosion. He said in a statement:

“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.”

City councilman Freddie O’Connell, who represents the downtown Nashville around, tweeted that “dozens” of his constituents had lost their homes due to the explosion on a frigid holiday morning with snow expected. He wrote:

“We will work together to get through this and rebuild.”

Mayor John Cooper said in a statement:

“This was a terrible, but Nashville has faced other challenges, particularly this year. We can rebuild and get back to normal. 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.”

Nashville Metropolitan Police Chief John Drake celebrated the work his officers did to evacuate nearby buildings when the situation was fluid and uncertain. He said:

“Those officers saved lives today. They immediately began knocking on doors, not knowing if the bomb was going to go off immediately. They didn’t care about themselves, they didn’t think about that, they cared about the citizens of Nashville.”

One of the residents is Betsy Williams, 64, who runs a vacation rental business in a building her family owns across the street from where the RV was parked. She said she was sleeping in her third-floor apartment when she was awakened by the sound of gunfire around 5 a.m. She said:

“It sounded like it was from an automatic weapon because it was rapid fire.”

She added that she heard several loud bursts of gunfire, which prompted her to call 911. Her son, who was visiting from Georgia, said that he noticed the RV parked across the street and though it seemed suspicious. 

Once Williams heard the countdown coming from the speaker from the RV, she woke up her 85-year-old sister who was visiting from Arizona, put her cat, Mavis, into a carrier and she and her family got on the elevator around the time the message was giving the 11-minute warning.

They ran to her car and drove across the river to watch from a distance. When nothing happened after 15 or 20 minutes, they started driving back home, which is when they saw the explosion. She said:

“A fireball went up above the AT&T building. It was a hellacious blast. It was just a big old boom and it blew out the front of those buildings and caused a crater in the street.”

Williams and her family are now staying in a hotel with just the clothes they were wearing when they evacuated. She said she’s not sure when she’ll be able to get back home or if anything will be left. She said:

“It’s terrible. All of my stuff. All of our Christmas presents. We had all of our stuff laid out, ready to have Christmas stockings and Christmas breakfast and open our gifts and spend all day having a really nice, relaxed Christmas, sipping on a little champagne and now we’re not having any of that.”

Several people were taken to the department’s central precinct for questioning, but authorities declined to give more details. Though authorities said that are no indications of additional devices, police were going to door-to-door with dogs in the downtown area to search nearby buildings. 

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Baltimore police issue public safety alert after explosion of carjackings and armed robberies by juvenile group

October 9th, 2020

BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore Police Department is warning the public after a group of juveniles have been alleged to have committed multiple carjackings and armed robberies across the city.

While it is possible that each theft is being perpetrated by different people, police say that the methodology behind each one have very distinct similarities. 

According to BPD, an unknown number of armed juveniles are driving around in small groups of 4 or 5. 

As reported by Fox 45, they are targeting their victims using a very specific strategy. 

Those tactics include: 

“Multiple suspects exit from one or both sides of the vehicle.

The suspects park in close proximity to their intended victims and one of the suspects usually stays in the car or leaves it running.

One of the suspects vehicles will intentionally collide with the victim’s vehicle and then when the victim steps out to asses the damage they are then robbed.

The suspects will use both vehicle’s to block the victim’s path, on in front and one in the rear.

‘It’s a pattern that you see frequently,’ former Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Jason Johnson told FOX45 News. ‘These strategies help them evade detection from law enforcement because they’re always moving around in different vehicles.’”

The video courtesy of Fox 45. 

The Baltimore Police Department issued the Public Safety Alert via social media. 

https://www.facebook.com/BaltimoreCityPolice/photos/a.277239856955/10157266432536956/?type=3

Investigators believe that these individuals have been doing this for some time and are repeat offenders. 

“More than anything it’s a reminder that our system of juvenile justice is not set up to deal with juvenile, young people, who are engaged in very adult crimes,” Johnson said. “These are violent crimes where they’re putting a gun in someone’s face.”

Police have also said that while they have seen this activity in numerous residential neighborhoods, Patterson Park has seen an increase in the number of incidents involving these same tactics. 

They also issued some tips on reducing the likelihood of becoming a victim. 

Walk in well lit, populated areas. Stay alert and do be distracted by having your phone out in the open. Have your keys ready, but again, not in the open. And finally, if you do become a victim of these groups of teenagers, comply with all demands and call 911 when it is safe to do so. 

BPD is still looking for anyone with information about who these individuals are and have asked with persons with any information to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP.

Sadly, Baltimore is known for its violence against “snitches.” Here is a story we brought you a few weeks ago about a mother and her 7-year-old son who were executed in Baltimore, allegedly to keep them from talking to police.  

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BALTIMORE, MD – In 2015, a mother and her young child were murdered in Southwest Baltimore.  Over the years, the family members of these victim’s must have thought that justice would never be found.  That is, until recently, when police were finally able to make an arrest.

Federal law enforcement announced the indictment of the suspect, Andre Ricardo “Poo” Briscoe” on September 23rd

Police released shocking details regarding the case, including that Briscoe allegedly shot the child, Kester Browne, multiple times to prevent him from talking to police.  US Attorney Rob Hur said:

“These murders are shocking and unconscionable.  This indictment should make one thing crystal clear: If you touch a witness, especially a child, the full weight of federal law enforcement will be harnessed to find you and bring you to justice.  And we will not stop investigating until we bring to justice anyone else who was involved.”

An attorney for Briscoe, William Purpura, told the Sun that his client was initially questioned by law enforcement for his possible involvement in the case.  He wondered why the police would now bring any charges against him, because of the statute of limitations involved federal charges. 

Purpura said:

“It’s kind of perplexing and mysterious and concerning to Mr. Briscoe.”

Typically, there are no statute of limitations for the crime of murder, however, when federal charges get involved there must be another federal crime involved, i.e. drug trafficking. 

Briscoe was first arrested in May of this year for firearm and drug charges related to the original homicide.  As far as how those charges were related, that remains to be seen as they were not made public.

Judge Richard D Bennett looked at some of the facts of the case and determined that the mother, victim, in this case, Jennifer Jeffrey, “was a heroin dealer and that Defendant Briscoe was her weekly or twice weekly customer.”

Briscoe’s attorney’s alleged that he had been with his cousin on the morning of the murder, May 27, 2015.  At some point, he had been dropped off on Broadway Street near the Perkins Homes neighborhood in East Baltimore which would have allegedly, excluded him from involvement.

Purpura was confident on the 23rd that he would be able to show that Briscoe was nowhere near the homicide when it occurred.  Rather, he was in Cambridge, where he was living at the time.  He said:

“There’s going to be an issue of when the killings actually occurred.”

The mother and son were killed during the violence that followed in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray death.  42 people lost their lives in Baltimore that year in the month of May.

The small child, known as Tony, was murdered while still in his pajamas.  His principal knew him as a gentle child and a standout in the second grade.

Family members had initially stated that they believed whoever the murder was could have been identified by Tony which is why he was killed.  They believed that if that was accurate that the murderer had to be close to the area.

Briscoe is now in federal prison on his original charges and could face the death penalty for witness tampering murder, conspiracy to distribute and for possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of  heroin; and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Briscoe will remain in federal custody until his initial appearance on his new charges are decided.  He will face the US District Court in Baltimore on the new murder charges he is facing. 

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Author: Jenna Curren

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I'm awesome! What else would I say about myself.