Metro Nashville police officers recount Christmas morning bombing

Posted at 12:15 PM, Dec 27, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Six Metro Nashville police officers have been commended for their heroic response early Christmas morning when an RV exploded.

The officers responded to the call of gunfire and upon hearing an RV play a recorded message saying the vehicle contained a bomb, took several measures to evacuate as many people as possible from Second Avenue.

City leaders applauded the officers for their swift action, putting the lives of others ahead of their own.

"They immediately began knocking on doors, not knowing when the bomb would go off," Chief John Drake said at a press conference Saturday night. "They didn't think of themselves...they thought of the citizens of Nashville. They saved lives today, and their heroism should be noted."

The responding officers were identified as:

  • Officer Brenna Hosey
  • Officer Tyler Luellen
  • Officer Michael Sipos
  • Officer Amanda Topping
  • Officer James Wells
  • Sergeant Timothy Miller

Metro police said the bomb squad was en route to the scene when the vehicle exploded.

Officer Luellen arrived at the scene first. He said after five minutes, they heard a timer counting down from the RV. Officers noticed the shades were down on the vehicle but did not notice a tag. He said he didn't immediately notice the RV, but thought it may have been someone visiting town for Christmas.

The officers contacted six to seven apartments and asked residents to evacuate.

After some time, music began to play from the RV. Once the song finished, the announcement of a bomb continued.

Officer Luellen said once the announcement resumed, he saw a man walking a dog. The man was notified of the warning and shortly after the RV exploded. Luellen said he was knocked over and the man was in shock.

The second officer who responded to the scene was Brenna Hosey. She said when she heard the announcement coming from the RV she was confused.

"Is this really what we're hearing right now," Hosey recalled thinking.

She then began clearing apartments on Second Avenue floor-by-floor. They began these evacuation efforts as the RV announced there would be 14 minutes until detonation.

Officer James Wells suffered hearing loss from the blast. Wells said once he heard Luellen call over the radio for an immediate response, he knew by the tone of his voice it was serious.

Officer Topping said as she was getting to the area of Second Avenue and Commerce Street she began to hear the message playing from the RV.

"That's a sound I'll never forget," she said.

Sgt. Miller was not present at the press conference because he was traveling out of town on Sunday morning.

This story was first published by Caroline Sutton at WTVF in Nashville, Tennessee.