As the nation watched nervous TV hosts try to fill space as the Nashville fireworks were delayed over a half-hour Sunday night, behind-the-scene a lot was happening. Several suspected trespassers in the blast/fallout zone caused MNPD officers to search for them in a building with personnel and a helicopter – and then suddenly someone started the show, catching 8 MNPD officers and a helicopter pilot in the immediate airspace by surprise. We have the audio from their radio traffic #LISTEN
Just before fireworks were scheduled to start in Nashville Sunday night, police noticed a group of approximately five people inside the Bridge Building, which was inside the blast/fallout zone for the nation’s largest fireworks show. They were observed on multiple levels of the building, on the rooftop, and on several open patio areas. As this was an immediate threat to public safety, the fireworks show was delayed for over a half-hour while police tried unsuccessfully to locate and detain the suspected trespassers. They were being aided by the MNPD helicopter who had sight of the individuals while they were on the patios and via some of the windows.
In the middle of the search to clear the building, fireworks suddenly starting igniting – someone had directed the festivities to begin, while people were inside the blast/fallout zone, and the MNPD helicopter was still in the airspace of the area. The helicopter pilot can be heard on the audio detailing that he was just “one-quarter orbit from being directly over where they launched from”. Someone on the police/fire channel noted, “I guess citizens in the building were enough to delay the show, but officers in the building weren’t”.
At some point, the Nashville Fire Chief was made aware that people were inside the blast zone still, and he relayed, via the Fire Marshall, that he would not stop the show, despite the close calls with the personnel and the helicopter. The radio traffic from MNPD officers is crystal clear. As they key up their mics you can hear mortars exploding nearby them, as they express the clear fear for safety. One remarks that whoever made this decision “should be fired”, and who seems to be a supervisor confirms “I, know”, in agreement.
Information on the suspected trespassers has not been released, however, radio traffic indicated they were released at the scene, and at least two of them appeared to have permission from employees to be inside the building, though per the city, the entire building should have been evacuated during the event.
We have reached out to all departments and agencies involved for comment and more information on who gave the command to start the show and will update this article as more information becomes available. This is a developing story.