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Country star John Rich praises Nashville officers who acted fast to save lives before explosion

On Christmas morning in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, an RV exploded after running audio that a bomb was going to go off. Nashville police went door to door quickly to get everyone out. Today they are being hailed as heroes. Without their bravery, it could have been much, much worse.

Six Nashville, Tennessee, police officers were praised as quick-thinking and fast-acting heroes Friday. They were credited with saving lives and limiting injuries in the downtown area after the vehicle detonated injuring three. Human remains have been found at the site but at this point, no one knows who they belong to. The officers had about 15 minutes to get everyone out before the RV blew.

“These officers didn’t care about themselves,” Metro Nashville police Chief John Drake told FOX 17 in Nashville. “They didn’t think about that. They cared about the citizens of Nashville.”

“[They] took swift action and directed people away from danger to save lives even at the time that their own lives would have been in peril. They are heroes and I am grateful to them and all of our first responders,” said Mayor John Cooper in an evening press conference.

According to police, the vehicle arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m. The explosion occurred at 6:30 a.m. Three cars were set afire. Trees were down. Bricks and glass were everywhere. One resident said the scene of destruction was like an apocalyptic movie.

Communications were knocked out after the blast and are still out. It occurred in front of the AT&T transmission building. More than 41 businesses were damaged or destroyed in the blast. Flights were halted over Nashville for a period of time but that has been lifted.

The officers, with no regard for their own safety, went door-to-door evacuating residents. They called in a bomb squad after spotting a suspicious recreational vehicle that was parked on a downtown street. Soon after a recording played announcing the impending explosion, the RV exploded in a tremendous blast that damaged multiple buildings.

Police initially responded to reports of shots being fired in the early hours of Friday morning when they encountered the RV, which Chief Drake said, “had a recording saying a potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes.”

One officer was knocked flat when the bomb went off but is okay now. Another experienced hearing loss and it is unclear whether the injury will be temporary or permanent. No other officers were hurt.

The six officers were identified as: Officer Brenna Hosey (4 years of service); Officer James Luellen (3 years); Officer Michael Sipos (16 months); Officer Amanda Topping (21 months); Officer James Wells (21 months) and Sgt. Timothy Miller (11 years).

Just moments before the bomb went off, a police officer redirected a man and his dog who were walking in the area of the RV.

“Obviously they heard the announcements coming from this vehicle, they took them seriously and were working to seal the streets to protect folks, and we think it worked,” a police spokesman told reporters. “We think lives were saved by those officers doing just that.”

The explosion was obviously intentional and people are nervous about further incidents.

“Thank God for our police. I would say Back the Blue,” country star and Nashville bar owner John Rich said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “I would say this is why you don’t defund the police. You have to have them in situations like this when they’re the only ones keeping watch over the safety of the citizens. So God Bless Metro Nashville Police Department, we’ve all got their back.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told Fox News she was “so grateful” for law enforcement, calling them the “thin blue line that continues to stand between chaos and calm.”

“It could have been much worse,” said bar owner Joey DeGraw. “Some police officer obviously had his eyes peeled and picked out something suspicious, thank God.”

Nashville Mayor John Cooper has signed an executive order, which declares a state of civil emergency and enacts a curfew within the area bounded by James Robertson Parkway, 4th Avenue North, Broadway, and the Cumberland River. The curfew will remain in place until Sunday, Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m.

The FBI has taken over the investigation into the explosion.

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