Lesbian police officer celebrated as a hero for saving lives after Christmas Day suicide bombing
A police officer caught in a Christmas Day bombing incident in Nashville has spoken about hoping to make it home to her wife ahead of the explosion.
Officer Amanda Topping is among six officers from the Metro Nashville Police Department who have earned praise for their actions preventing casualties on 25 December after a camper van exploded on Second Avenue in downtown Nashville.
Bombing suspect Anthony Warner, 63, is believed to have died in the blast, which occurred after police were called to the scene – with the vehicle rigged to play an ominous automated message and the vintage song “Downtown” as it counted down to the detonation.
Three civilians were hurt in the explosion, with Topping and her colleagues hailed as “heroes” by local officials for their quick work to prevent further casualties by evacuating the area.
Police officer was on the phone to her wife when call came in
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Topping spoke about being called to the incident after an “odd” call on Christmas morning.
Topping, who has been with the department for two years, said: “We were sitting [in the station], and my wife had just called because it was toward the end of our shift, so she was seeing what time I was coming home.
“I’m talking to her, and I told her, ‘We’re about to head to this call, it’s a little strange.’ I hung up with her, and we get there but we didn’t really know. too much about it.”
After getting to the scene, she recalled: “I heard what the RV was saying, and it’s stuff that I’ll never forget – it was a female voice saying, ‘Your primary objective is to evacuate. Evacuate now.’
“I was pacing back and forth, having to turn pedestrians around… you just have a feeling, ‘Something’s not right.’ You just don’t get stuff like that.
“I was standing there by my car, and I heard [another officer] say that music just came on. I was about to get on the radio and say, ‘I know it’s not my place, but everybody’s getting out of the buildings, right?’
“I was getting really antsy… I had talked to my wife again and told her things were really strange.”
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After spending crucial minutes turning pedestrians away at the head of the street, Topping opted to walk over to a colleague close to the van, James Wells, when it detonated.
She said: “I start walking towards him, and he starts walking towards me… I was probably about ten steps away from him, and I saw the biggest flames I’ve ever seen, the biggest explosion. I saw him stumble and felt the heat.
“I don’t know how I kept my footing, but I took off on a sprint towards him, and I’ve never grabbed somebody so hard in my life. We ducked into a doorway, and I’ll never forget the windows shattering after the blast, all around me.”
Topping added: “The first thing I could so was [get on the radio], ‘There’s been an explosion, send multiple medics.’ I was so scared I had just lost my entire detail. Luckily, I heard everybody on the radio, and knew everybody was alive. I was happy to hear nobody else was seriously injured.”
Mayor John Cooper has called the officers “heroes”, while officials have said it is a “miracle” that no residents were killed in the bombing.