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Nashville Blast Was The Latest Tragedy To Mark 2020


Officials in Nashville say Anthony Warner is responsible for the Christmas Day bombing that injured several people, damaged dozens of buildings, and interrupted emergency communications. Warner died in the explosion. Samantha Max of member station WPLN says the bombing is yet another tragedy in an already difficult year for the Tennessee capitol.

SAMANTHA MAX, BYLINE: Nashville has come together time and again in 2020 - residents cleared debris after deadly tornadoes in March, thousands protest systemic racism this summer, and local researchers have helped with the race to create a vaccine for COVID-19, which has hit the area hard. But it was eerily quiet on Christmas Day. A massive explosion marked another grim moment in what Mayor John Cooper is calling Nashville's hardest year ever.


JOHN COOPER: We've persevered and overcome, and I want to take to 2021 the knowledge that we can work together as a city...

MAX: After Friday's explosion on Second Avenue, business owners, tourists, and residents struggled to make sense of what had happened.

CHRISTIAN SADULLAH: I was very scared because...

MAX: Christian Sadullah (ph) lives around the corner from the blast site. The 22-year-old moved here this year to be in the heart of the city. Now he's not sure if he wants to stay.

SADULLAH: If the police have some, you know, answers for us, then yes - and if they keep having police around for a while. But if they don't find anything, then, no, I will not be comfortable living here because...

MAX: Craig Knapp (ph) is trying to stay optimistic. He's the general manager of a restaurant about a block away that just reopened with COVID-19 protocols. Knapp says his business wasn't damaged, but it will suffer if the streets stay closed.

CRAIG KNAPP: You just don't know what's going to come at you and what's going to be next, but we'll get through it.

MAX: Once the crime scene is cleared, Nashville's mayor has pledged to rebuild. He says it's just another test for a city that will come together once again. For NPR News, I'm Samantha Max in Nashville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Samantha Max covers criminal justice for WPLN and joins the newroom through the Report for America program. This is her second year with Report for America: She spent her first year in Macon, Ga., covering health and inequity for The Telegraph and macon.com.