Investigators are looking at ‘any and all possible motives’ after identifying Nashville bomber
Dec 28, 2020, 6:14 AM | Updated: 7:37 am
(CNN) — Investigators continue to look at “any and all possible motives” in the Nashville explosion after identifying the bomber as Anthony Quinn Warner.
The early Christmas morning explosion, which took place in the city’s downtown area, left at least three injured and damaged more than 40 buildings.
Investigators have said the RV involved in the Nashville explosion was broadcasting a female voice warning to evacuate with a countdown clock, mixed with the song “Downtown” by Petula Clark, CNN previously reported.
After being informed about the warning, Nashville Police officers immediately sprang into action, knocking on doors and evacuating residents from the area and likely saving many from serious injury, Mayor John Cooper said.
Investigators are looking at “any and all possible motives,” Doug Korneski, the FBI special agent in charge of the Memphis Field Office, said during a Sunday evening press conference.
Warner’s neighbor: He was a ‘hermit’
Steve Schmoldt has lived next door to Warner since 2001, and Schmoldt’s wife has lived in the house since 1995.
“He’s lived there a long time and he sort of kept to himself,” Schmoldt told CNN of Warner. “All we knew him by was Tony. He was kind of a hermit.”
The extent of most of their interactions was just waving to each other over the fence, he explained.
On Friday night, Schmoldt said his wife noticed law enforcement trucks outside Warner’s home. As the couple sat down to have coffee Saturday morning, his wife said she saw what she believed was a SWAT team outside.
An RV seen on Google Street View at Warner’s house appears to match the one law enforcement has asked the public for information on.
“He’s had that for a long time,” Schmoldt said. “Sometimes he’s had it in his driveway. Sometimes he had it in his backyard.”
While the RV had been parked in the backyard for a couple of weeks, Schmoldt said it hadn’t been on the property for a few days.
Steve Fridrich, of Fridrich & Clark, LLC, said he hired Warner as a computer consultant for his real estate business as an independent contractor for several years.
In a statement on Sunday, Fridrich described Warner as a “nice person.” He said Warner had said he was retiring earlier this month.
Fridrich said when he learned Warner was a suspect in the bombing, he notified authorities about the work he had performed for his company.
“Tony Warner has never been an employee of our company but occasionally came to our office to service our computers. Earlier this month, he advised us that he was retiring and Fridrich & Clark has not had any contact with him since that time,” he said in the statement the CNN.
“Upon learning that Tony is a suspect in the bombing on 2nd Avenue on Christmas morning, Fridrich & Clark notified the authorities that he had provided IT services to our firm. The Tony Warner we knew is a nice person who never exhibited any behavior which was less than professional.”
Investigators identified Warner as bomber within 48 hours
When asked by a reporter if Warner had previously been on law enforcement’s radar, Tennessee Bureau Investigations (TBI) Director David Rausch answered, “No, he has not.”
Even without previous information on Warner, investigators were able to quickly piece together several critical details in the bombing.
Within 48 hours, they had identified Warner, 63, using DNA taken from remains found at the scene and matching them with a family member of Warner’s.
“Anthony Quinn Warner is the bomber. He was present when the bomb went off,” Don Cochran, US Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said during a Sunday evening press conference, adding that Warner “perished in the bombing.”
There is no indication that anybody else was involved with the Nashville explosion, Korneski, of the FBI, said Sunday.
Forensic analysts at both the FBI in Quantico, Virginia, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, were able to confirm a match, Korneski said. He explained that knowing the person they thought was responsible enabled them to make contact with the family and find a DNA match.
Remnants of the vehicle from the bombing were recovered from the scene and investigators with the Tennessee Highway Patrol were able to determine the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for the RV, authorities said Sunday. Korneski said the VIN number matched that of a vehicle registered to Warner.
A tip about the RV led law enforcement officials to the Bakertown Road home, a law enforcement official told CNN.
Federal investigators were at the home Saturday conducting “court-authorized activity,” FBI spokesman Jason Pack told CNN.
CNN has attempted to contact family members of Warner, but has not heard back.
Warner’s motivation remains unknown
Although some facts were established about the bombing, Warner’s motive is still unknown, Korneski said Sunday.
The type of explosives used in the explosion haven’t yet been determined. “That is still under investigation,” Korneski said in response to a question from CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz.
“Evidence from the crime scene is still being processed at our laboratory.”
When asked about a Warner having a paranoia about 5G, Korneski responded, “We’re not at a position to speculate on that now.”
Korneski said he couldn’t comment about on whether the bombing was considered domestic terrorism, but did say that when the FBI “assess an event for domestic terrorism nexus it has to be tied to an ideology.”
“It’s the use of force or violence in the furtherance of a political social ideology and we haven’t tied that yet,” he said.
Korneski asked that anyone who may have known Warner or encountered him to reach out to FBI investigators so a motive can be established.
“These answers won’t come quickly,” Korneski said. “Though we may be able to answer some of those questions … none of those answers will ever be enough for those affected by this event.”
Authorities give timeline for bombing
The RV involved in the explosion arrived on 2nd Ave N at 1:22 a.m. CT Christmas morning, according to a tweet from Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD), which was accompanied by a street camera image.
Around 5:30 a.m. police received a call in the area for shots fired. Six officers arrived on scene and heard a broadcast coming from the RV announcing that it would explode in 15 minutes, MNPD Chief John Drake said at a press conference Saturday.
An explosion then rocked the entire area at 6:30 a.m., minutes after the original time for detonation, throwing one officer to the ground and temporarily damaging the hearing of another, Drake said.
Three civilians were taken to local hospitals after suffering non-critical injuries, Nashville Fire Public Information Officer John Pleasant said at the press conference Saturday.
Emergency communications impacted by explosion
The RV was parked at 166 2nd Ave N, right outside an AT&T transmission building, which sustained significant damage in the blast, authorities said.
Communications were impacted throughout the area, with widespread cell phone service outages and loss of communication to air towers causing a ground stop at Nashville International Airport Friday.
At one point, local officials asked residents to reserve phone calls strictly for emergencies to make sure calls for help could get through.
AT&T was able to get power to the building with generators Saturday and nearly all mobile service outages had been restored by Sunday night, an updated statement from the communications provider said.
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