Federal authorities are working to piece together the motive behind the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville that severely damaged dozens of downtown buildings and injured three people.
Officials on Sunday named Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, as the man behind the mysterious explosion in which he was killed, but the motive has remained elusive.
“We hope to get an answer. Sometimes, it’s just not possible,” David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a Monday interview on NBC’s Today show. “The best way to find motive is to talk to the individual. We will not be able to do that in this case.”
In just a few days, hundreds of tips and leads have been submitted to law enforcement agencies. Yet thus far, officials have not provided information on what possibly drove Warner to set off the explosion. According to officials, he had not been on the radar before Christmas. A TBI records report released Monday showed that Warner’s only arrest was for a 1978 marijuana-related charge.
“It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death but again that’s all still speculation at this point as we continue in our investigation with all our partners,” Rausch added.
Some details about Warner’s life have emerged, with acquaintances describing him as a reserved homebody who was long devoted to his pets.
Warner was raised in the Nashville neighborhood of Antioch. He graduated from Antioch high school and then put down roots in the area, according to The Tennessean. In high school, Warner was on the golf team.
“What I can remember about him was essentially three things: quiet, polite, and I don’t like to use the term, but quite frankly nerdish,” Charlie Bozman, who had overseen the Antioch high school’s golf coach when Warner was on the team, told the newspaper. “He was a very reserved person.”.
Over the past month, however, Warner “appeared to put his affairs in order,” the newspaper reported. In late November, Warner transferred ownership of his longtime home to a Los Angeles woman. He did so with a “quitclaim deed,” meaning the transfer did not require her signature.
Steve Fridrich, owner of Fridrich & Clark Realty, told the newspaper that Warner resigned from providing IT services after working as a contractor for the firm for about four or five years. “In December he sent us an email saying he’d no longer be working for us,” Fridrich reportedly said.
Fridrich also told the local WSMV TV station that federal agents had asked him if Warner had a paranoia about 5G technology. Promoted by the rightwing cult movement QAnon, among others, the conspiracy theory makes wild claims about 5G.
Officials have not provided insight into why Warner selected the particular location for the bombing, which damaged an AT&T building and continued to wreak havoc on cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states as the company worked to restore service.
Forensic analysts were reviewing evidence collected from the blast site to try to identify the components of the explosives as well as information from the U.S. Bomb Data Center for intelligence and investigative leads, according to a law enforcement official who said investigators were examining Warner’s digital footprint and financial history, as well as a recent deed transfer of a suburban Nashville home they searched.
The official, who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said federal agents were examining a number of potential leads and pursuing several theories, including the possibility that the AT&T building was targeted.
Korneski said Sunday that officials were looking at any and all motives and were interviewing acquaintances of Warner’s to try to determine what may have motivated him.
The bombing took place on a holiday morning well before downtown streets were bustling with activity and was accompanied by a recorded announcement warning anyone nearby that a bomb would soon detonate. Then, for reasons that may never be known, the audio switched to a recording of Petula Clark’s 1964 hit “Downtown” shortly before the blast.
Police were responding to a report of shots fired on Friday when they encountered the RV blaring a recorded warning that a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes. Suddenly the warning stopped, and Downtown started playing.
The RV exploded shortly afterward, sending black smoke and flames billowing from the heart of downtown Nashville’s tourist scene, an area packed with honky-tonks, restaurants and shops.
Earlier Sunday, the officers who responded provided harrowing details, at times getting choked up reliving the moments that led up to the blast.
“This is going to tie us together forever, for the rest of my life,” Metro Nashville police officer James Wells, who suffered some hearing loss due to the explosion, told reporters at a news conference. “Christmas will never be the same.”