Nashville bombing: Authorities know Anthony Quinn Warner triggered the blast, but motive remains a mystery – USA TODAY
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hundreds of tips and a phalanx of law enforcement officers helped determine that Anthony Quinn Warner triggered the bomb that rocked this city and took his life on Christmas morning.
All that information and effort, however, have thus far failed to determine why. Investigators on Monday continued to try to put together the pieces.
“These answers won’t come quickly and will still require a lot of our team’s effort,” FBI Special Agent for Public Affairs Doug Korneski said Sunday. “None of those answers will ever be enough for those who have been affected by this event.
“We still have work to do.”
Warner’s body was essentially incinerated by the force of the blast when his recreational vehicle exploded on a quiet, downtown street, injuring three bystanders. DNA found at the scene, matched to samples taken at another location, provided Warner’s identification, Korneski said.
Moments before the blast, a speaker system broadcast a warning to evacuate the area. Officers at the scene before the explosion said the speakers also played the 1960s hit song “Downtown” by Petula Clark. The lyrics, describing downtown as a place to seek refuge from sadness, begin with “when you’re alone, and life is making you lonely, you can always go downtown.”
Police, acting on the RV’s warnings, evacuated several people from the area. Warner was the only fatality, but more than 40 buildings were damaged. Authorities say it appears Warner acted alone.
“I cannot truly describe all the hard work that has gone into this investigation since Friday’s explosion,” Police Chief John Drake said. “Nashville is considered safe.”
Still, this sprawling, fast-growing metro area of 2 million people is on edge. The driver of a box truck parked outside a convenience store in neighboring Rutherford County was arrested on felony charges Sunday after loudly playing audio “similar to what was heard” in the moments before Friday’s blast.
Tennessee Highway Patrol sent a robot to probe the truck. No explosive device was found, but investigation closed a local highway for five hours on Sunday, Wilson County Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Moore said.
James Turgeon, 33, was charged with two counts of felony for filing a false report and one count of tampering with evidence and held on $500,000 bond.
The focus of the explosion investigation remains on Warner, 63, a longtime Nashville-area resident. The RV was parked near an AT&T building downtown when the blast occurred. Mayor John Cooper said the possibility that AT&T was targeted is one avenue being investigated by law enforcement officials.
The building was severely damaged, disrupting Internet, phone and emergency service communication across multiple states. Retailers were also affected – Walmart confirmed that outages affected multiple stores, and shoppers took to social media to report Walmart closures in some locations, while other locations accepted only cash.
Warner had held several IT jobs, and public records show he had extensive experience with electronics and alarm systems. He recently worked as an independent computer technician with the real estate firm Fridrich & Clark.
Federal agents have searched his home in Antioch, and the Fridrich & Clark real estate office in Nashville, for clues to Warner’s mental state.
A neighbor, Steve Schmoldt, described Warner as “kind of low key to the point of, I don’t know, I guess some people would say he’s a little odd.” Warner had placed lights and security cameras outside his home. He built a fence around his yard himself, Schmoldt told The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network.
“You never saw anyone come and go,” Schmoldt said of Warner’s home. “Never saw him go anywhere. As far as we knew, he was kind of a computer geek that worked at home.”
Warner had recent legal issues. Court records show Warner became enmeshed in a family dispute after he transferred ownership of a second family home to himself about one month before his brother died in 2018. The case was dismissed in October 2019 at the mother’s request. Family lawyer Yancy Belcher declined comment.
Court records also show a deed transfer of Warner’s residence from Warner to an individual with a Los Angeles address on Nov. 25 for $0.
Korenski requested people who knew Warner to contact police and share information while authorities investigate “any and all motives.”
Schmoldt said it appears Warner didn’t want to hurt anyone else.
“But if that’s the case, what other message is there?” Schmoldt said. “They have to figure out some kind of motive.”
Bacon reported from McLean, Virginia. Contributing: Natalie Allison, Brinley Hineman and Adam Tamburin, The Tennessean; The Associated Press
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