Explosion In Nashville Hotel Shakes Up Tulsa's Sheriff's Department

Wednesday, June 20th 2012, 6:41 pm
By: News On 6

The Sheriff, Undersheriff, and four deputies were attending a week-long conference in Nashville, Tennessee when an explosion rocked the hotel around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

They said their first thought was a terrorist's bomb, but that turned out not to be the case.

Tulsa County Undersheriff, Tim Albin, came back to Tulsa from Nashville after a crazy night that involved very little sleep.

He and many other law enforcement officers were staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center for a National Sheriff's Association meeting. An explosion ripped through the building, while they were attending a reception hosted by ICE.

"A loud explosion went off right underneath the room we were in," said Albin. "So much so, it felt like the floor lifted up and went back down."

Albin and two other sheriffs immediately ran downstairs to check for victims, and to see if they could tell what caused the blast.

One of them was a bomb tech. As soon as he saw the damage, he said he knew it was nothing sinister, which is what they all first thought, given all the immigration events in the news this week.

"That was the absolute first thing that ran through my head-- it was some type of terrorist or political statement," Albin said.

In a cell phone video shot right afterward and posted on YouTube.com, you can hear the fire alarms and see debris everywhere.

Fire marshals said a gas leak ignited in a mechanical room in the convention portion of the hotel.

As many as 5,000 guests were evacuated.

They were let back into their rooms seven to nine hours later, between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Nobody was hurt, but it was a moment few people who experienced it will forget.

"Even though we were a couple of floors up and there was a large opening, you could feel the pressure come into the room and get pulled out of the room. It was a significant event," said Albin.