Nashville explosion caused by bomb, not missile
CLAIM: Video shows that Nashville explosion was caused by a missile or some kind of directed energy weapon.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The explosion was caused by a bomb inside of a parked recreational vehicle in downtown Nashville. Social media users shared grainy surveillance video from the Dec. 25 explosion, and pointed to a streak of smoke to falsely claim that a missile caused the blast.
THE FACTS: On Christmas Day, a recreational vehicle parked outside an AT&T building in downtown Nashville exploded, interfering with cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states, and damaging dozens of buildings and injuring three people, the AP reported.
Police were responding to a report of shots fired Friday when they encountered the RV blaring a recorded warning that a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes.
Officials on Sunday named Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, as the man behind the explosion in which he was killed. Investigators are still working to piece together the motive.
The Metro Nashville Police Department posted surveillance video from their camera at the intersection of 2nd Avenue North and Commerce Street, proving that the blast came from a parked recreational vehicle.
Social media users shared grainy surveillance video of the explosion from a local business, BlastAway Sand Blasting, to falsely claim a missile caused the explosion. Posts pointed to what appears to be a streak of smoke captured in the video and falsely asserted it was a “missile trail” from the missile striking the area. Other posts referred to a directed energy weapon causing the damage.
But when viewing the video frame by frame, the streak of smoke appears to ascend from the source of the blast.
“That is not a missile strike. Missiles don’t leave smoke trails as they come back down,” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies told The Associated Press in an email.
The false claims circulated widely on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Parler.
“Looking like a missile strike now. Video proof. Explains why the airspace was locked down,” wrote one Twitter user on Dec. 26. The post had more than 1,000 retweets.
“No inside information, but the Directed Energy Weapon explanation is plausible. BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: A Video Proves Nashville Explosion Was Actually A Missile Strike, And The Target Was The AT&T/NSA Hardened Switching Facility “Spy Hub,” wrote another Twitter user on Dec. 27. The post had over 2,800 retweets.
The Nashville news station WKRN-TV aired the local business’ surveillance video during live coverage. The black and white video that is being shared on social media appears to be from a phone recording of the surveillance video playing on a screen.
Some posts falsely alleged a missile targeted AT&T because the company got a contract to do a forensic audit of Dominion Voting Systems machines and those machines were recently moved to the same AT&T building in Nashville that was damaged in the explosion. The Associated Press has debunked that the explosionwas related to Dominion or the elections. Authorities have also said it’s too early to determine if the AT&T building was a target in the explosion.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536