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Fact check: Nashville blast was not caused by a missile strike

Social media users have claimed that an explosion in Nashville on Dec. 25 was caused by a missile strike. This is false: the blast was caused by a bomb inside a parked vehicle.

Investigators work near the site of an explosion on 2nd Avenue that occurred the day before in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. December 26, 2020. REUTERS/Harrison McClary

Posts began to circulate online from Dec. 26, alleging that the explosion in the central U.S. state of Tennessee “was actually a missile strike” ( here , here , here and here ).

Others made similar claims, for instance that a “directed energy weapon” was caught on camera before the explosion (here) and that the motor home, also called a reactional vehicle or RV, was “clearly not the source” of the blast (here).

There is no evidence to support these claims.

Reuters reported that a motor home exploded in Nashville on Christmas day at around 6 a.m. local time, injuring three people (here).

Nashville Police Chief John Drake told reporters that, prior to the blast, police heard a recorded voice warning that a “bomb would detonate in 15 minutes.” Officers quickly went door-to-door in nearby buildings to hustle people to safety, and called for dispatch of the police bomb squad, which was on its way to the scene when the vehicle blew up, police spokesman Don Aaron said (here).

The message, as captured in a recording broadcast later by local television news stations, said: “This area must be evacuated now. This area must be evacuated now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now.” ( here , here )

Nashville Police Department tweeted an image of the vehicle in a call for information on Dec. 25, writing: “This is the RV that exploded…this morning.” (here)

On Dec. 28 they also posted a video capturing the moment the bomb went off inside the vehicle (here). Neither a missile nor a directed energy weapon can be seen in the footage.

Police said the explosion was an “intentional act” carried out by 63-year-old Anthony Warner, who was killed in the blast ( here and here ).

Donald Cochran, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, told a news conference: “We’ve come to the conclusion that an individual named Anthony Warner is the bomber and he was present when the bomb went off and that he perished in the bombing.” (here).

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence suggesting the explosion came from a missile or a so-called directed energy weapon. Information given by the police and reported by Reuters says that blast was caused by a bomb that went off inside Warner’s RV, killing him and injuring three people.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work  here .

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