NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — New information has been released on the communication breakdown that led to eight Metro Police SWAT members having to hunker down during the 4th of July fireworks show in downtown Nashville.
The officers were responding to a call to clear the Bridge Building, an event space in the “blast zone” after a group of four were spotted inside. The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. (NCVC) rented out building that night, they say, so that it would sit empty.
However, the CEO of Infinity Hospitality tells News 2 that none of the tenants in the building were told they couldn’t be there.
“Let’s be clear, we rented it to the city to not have an event. At no point were we told you can’t be in your office or your building,” said Nathaniel Beaver.
An employee and three of her friends went to watch the fireworks at the Bridge Building, as Beaver says his employees typically do.
“She parked in our normal staff parking lot and had to walk by someone in a police car, and they didn’t stop her. Once she got past that police car on the south of Lot R, there was no security from there all the way through Cumberland Park into the building,” Beaver explained, saying she was unaware that the space was in the blast zone.
It was this incident that caused a chain of events, from a delayed fireworks show, to a SWAT team response, which ended with eight officers sheltering in place during the show as 40,000 pounds of explosives were ignited just feet from the door.
“No one did anything wrong here,” said Beaver, pointing to a series of miscommunications that led to the turn of events.
However, an internal email chain between the NCVC and the Executive Event Director at Infinity Hospitality shows otherwise.
At least two emails in the days ahead of the 4th of July event read in part, “We rented the Bridge Building to ensure it would sit empty since it is technically in our firework’s fall out zone” and “We just need to make sure the building is locked and no one is on site for safety reasons.”
The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. says safety is their top priority and that all protocols were followed on their end, with assigned security and a fenced perimeter.
Metro Police said a security guard gave the all clear of the building without going through command and without checking with MNPD to ensure officers were out of the building. The message was relayed to start the fireworks show.
The Nashville Fire Department released their investigation review late Tuesday afternoon. It says in part:
NFD was not notified that the SWAT team had entered the building. The MNPD personnel at the Bridge Building who removed the unauthorized people from the fall out zone also did not notify the NFD that the SWAT team remained inside of the building.
The NFD was not notified that the SWAT team remained inside of the Bridge Building until after the fireworks show started.
At that point, the decision was made to allow the fireworks show to continue and have the MNPD personnel remain inside the building until the show ended.
Moving forward, before the 4th of July or New Year’s fireworks shows begin, a new protocol will require a green light from the Unified Command Post after NFD, EMS and MNPD have made sure their agencies are good to have the show proceed.