NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s early Christmas morning, Metro Nashville Central Precinct officers James Luellen and Brenna Hosey head downtown to the area of 2nd Ave. North near Commerce Street because of calls to 911.
Countdown recordings and intermittent music is coming from an RV parked on 2nd Avenue North in front of the AT&T Data Center.
“There’s a large bomb within this vehicle, your primary objective is to evacuate. I wasn’t quite sure what I heard so I looked at Officer Hosey just to verify we heard the same thing and then it started over. At that time, I called and notified Sgt. Miller he said get everyone you can out there. I requested all units available from our precinct to come,” said Officer Luellen.
Officer Michael Sipos, Officer Amanda Topping, Officer James Wells, and Sgt. Timothy Miller are now on the scene.
Officers Hosey, Luellen, and Sipos focus on getting people out of the area.
“We started making plans to get into the buildings, start knocking on doors to let families know what was going on. Informed them that they needed to exit the building. that would have been the first avenue side to keep them off the street with the RV,” said Officer Sipos.
“We were able to clear the first floor and then Sgt. Miller in his thinking has us come back out and move our patrol vehicles to a more strategic position so if we need to go back to our patrol cars we wouldn’t be affected at all, so um I’m giving him credit for that, for probably not only saving our lives but saving our patrol vehicles in the way that he had us positioned,” said Officer Hosey.
In the meantime, Central Precinct Police Officer David Snowden is inside his Second Avenue North home near the AT&T Data Center as he wasn’t scheduled to work until later that day.
“Just a few minutes after six my fiancé woke me up and she said that there were sounds of gunshot, what she heard on the streets and what she thought that she heard, the sounds of sirens, so she handed me my radio and immediately I got in touch with Officer Hosey who is a CD detail officer and began to ask her what the situation was, what the circumstances were,” said Officer Snowden.
Access codes are key to being able to warn more people inside locked buildings, codes Officer Snowden has.
“Having those access codes that was the first thing that I thought about was that those individuals weren’t going to be able to be notified, they weren’t going to be able to get into the buildings, they weren’t going to be able to get onto the elevators and so we started texting. I contacted the property manager to inform them, one of the property managers, of what was going on at that particular moment. And so, I think that’s where she and I began to coordinate where they were and the buildings that they had already evacuated and possibly even who was left at that particular time,” said Officer Snowden.
Officers are also strategically staged near Broadway to keep people away from the RV.
“Sgt. Miller wanted me to stay down there to help with pedestrian traffic on Broadway, and the buses were starting to do their routes and stuff,” said Officer Topping.
The RV countdown recording goes from 14 minutes, down to three, then just moments before the RV explodes.
“I literally hear God tell me to turn around and go check on Topping who was by herself down on Broadway and whoo….as I turn around to me it felt like I only took three steps and then the music stopped and as I’m walking back toward topping now I just see orange and then I hear a loud boom,” said Officer Wells.
“And I saw the biggest flames I’ve ever seen, the biggest explosion I mean and I just saw orange and then him and then I saw him stumble and I felt it, I felt the heat, the wave,” said Officer Topping.
Meanwhile the blast causes Officer Wells to temporarily lose hearing in his left ear. And while the blast causes unbelievable destruction, of the three injuries, none are life threatening.
The life-saving action of the six officers Christmas morning leads Metro Nashville City Council honor them.
So we honor the Metro Nashville Central Precinct Police Officers who risked their lives evacuating people before the Christmas morning explosion as our News 2 Gives Back Hometown Heroes for the Month of January, presented by TriStar Health, and their efforts to continue directing people to safety after the blast.