U.S. investigators say the man behind Nashville’s Christmas Day bombing was “not on our radar” as they continued to work to determine a motive in Friday’s explosion that injured three people.
“He was not someone that was identified as a person of interest for the bureau, and so we were not familiar with this individual until … this incident,” said David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, while speaking to reporters via a Zoom conference.
Authorities on Sunday identified 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner as the man who blew up a motor home at dawn in a neighborhood of Tennessee’s southern city of Nashville, killing himself. The blast damaged dozens of buildings and disrupted telecommunications systems in the neighborhood, which is filled with country music bars and restaurants.
Investigators used DNA and other evidence such as locating the vehicle identification number from the motor home and tips from the public to link Warner to the explosion.
Rausch said on Monday that Warner’s mother was cooperating with the investigation but that the motive for the explosion was still not clear. He said Warner’s only arrest was for a 1978 marijuana-related charge.
Rausch said the multi-agency investigation into the blast involves the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“We are all taking pieces of the puzzle, working to determine what the motivation was for this individual,” he said.
Since the blast, hundreds of tips and leads have been submitted to law enforcement agencies.
A neighbor of Warner’s, Rick Laude, told The Associated Press that he spoke to Warner just days before the explosion. He said Warner told him, “Nashville and the world is never going to forget me.”
Laude said that nothing about Warner raised any red flags and that he assumed the remark meant that “something good” was going to happen for Warner financially.
The FBI said its agents and those from ATF were still recovering and analyzing evidence. The area around the blast remained closed Monday.
“The motive for the incident is still unclear,” the FBI said in a statement late Sunday. “Leads are still being followed, but at this time, there is no indication that any other individuals are involved.”
Authorities searched Warner’s home Saturday in the suburb of Antioch about 18 kilometers from the blast site.
Several neighbors of Warner’s said they had seen a light-colored recreational vehicle, like the one that blew up Friday, in the backyard of the Antioch duplex during the past several months.
Public records show that Warner had experience with electronics and alarms. He also worked information technology jobs.
Investigators do not know why Warner chose downtown Nashville for what they described as an “intentional act” and a “deliberate bomb.”
One theory is that an AT&T communications building was targeted because the recreational vehicle was parked near it when the bomb went off.
Rausch said Monday that Warner’s father had worked for AT&T but that it was not clear if that was in any way connected.
Communications were affected in several states as the result of the blast, although much of the service was restored by Sunday afternoon.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that the location of the bombing, next to the AT&T building, indicated it was meant to be an attack on communications service.
“It feels like there has to be some connection with the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing,” he said. “It’s got to have something to do with the infrastructure.”
Six police officers were credited for saving people from being hurt after a recorded message coming from the vehicle said people should evacuate.
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