FACT CHECK: Was The Nashville Explosion Caused By A Missile Strike?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

Twitter users claim surveillance video shows the Dec. 25 explosion in Nashville, Tennessee was caused by a missile strike.

Verdict: False

The smoke trail in the surveillance footage appears to be ascending rather than descending, and a missile expert said it does not look like a missile strike. Video released by police shows the blast was caused by a bomb that detonated inside an RV.

Fact Check:

An explosion rattled downtown Nashville on Christmas morning, injuring several people and damaging dozens of buildings, according to the Tennessean. The blast came from a bomb inside an RV parked near an AT&T transmission building on Second Avenue North, the outlet reported.

Multiple Twitter users have since shared screen grabs and clips from surveillance footage of the explosion, pointing to what appears to be a smoke trail to claim the blast was caused by a missile. The origin of the footage shown in the tweets appears to be a video clip, titled “Nashville Explosion Caught on Tape (Second Angle)” and posted on YouTube by Nexstar Media Group director of digital content Austin Kellerman, that was obtained from a local business by the news station WKRN-TV.

In the surveillance video posted by Kellerman, the trail of smoke appears to ascend from rather than descend toward the explosion. The narrator of the video also notes the path of the smoke trail, saying, “Watch by the third light post, something streams up in the air” before the explosion is seen.

When asked if video footage shows a missile strike, Jeffrey Lewis, a missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told Check Your Fact in an email, “No, it does not. Missiles don’t leave a trail of smoke when they re-enter.” (RELATED: Viral Video Claims To Show A Missile Striking Beirut)

The Metro Nashville Police Department also tweeted footage from one of its cameras at the corner of Second Avenue North and Commerce Street that captured the moment of the RV’s detonation. In the police footage, no missile can be seen prior to the explosion.

Officials have identified 63-year-old Anthony Q. Warner as the lone suspected individual behind the Christmas Day bombing, the Tennessean reported. Don Cochran, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said in a press conference that Warner was “present when the bomb went off” and “perished in the bombing,” according to the outlet. A motive for the bombing has not been announced.

This isn’t the first time social media users have made false claims related to the Nashville explosion. Check Your Fact previously debunked posts that attempted to link the bombing to the election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems by alleging AT&T got a contract to audit voting machines from the company. Both AT&T and Dominion Voting Systems refuted the claim.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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