The FBI has identified Anthony Quinn Warner as the “bomber” in the Nashville Christmas Day bombing. The 63-year-old self-employed IT serviceman died in the blast, officials said. According to the state’s top investigative official, Warner’s intent was likely not to cause mass casualties, USA Today reported.
Investigators are continuing to look for a motive in the Christmas Day explosion that took place outside 166 2nd Avenue North, a historic part of downtown and section of Tennessee city’s hospitality and tourist district.
On Sunday, Nashville’s mayor, John Cooper told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that he “feels there had to be some connection to the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing,” — amid reports that Warner was paranoid about 5G networks spying on Americans, the New York Post reported.
“It’s got to have something to do with the infrastructure,” Cooper said.
The explosion caused massive service outages across the region, including to police departments, emergency services and Nashville International Airport, which temporarily halted flights Christmas Day. It also disrupted services in several neighboring states, including Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia, the New York Post reported.
On Sunday, federal investigators confirmed that Warner’s remains were found at the scene of the blast after the explosion that occurred around 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 25, reported CNN and CBS.
”It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death," David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), told TODAY on Monday. "That's all still speculation at this point as we continue in our investigation with all of our partners.”
At least eight people were treated at Nashville hospitals after the explosion. They all suffered non-life threatening injuries. More than 40 buildings that include restaurants, bars and shops in the heart of Nashville’s tourist district, including an AT&T transmission building that provides wireless service, were damaged, CNN reported.
On Christmas Day, officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department were responding to a call of shots fired Friday morning when they came upon a suspicious vehicle parked outside of the AT&T building. Police saw no immediate evidence of shots fired, but something about the RV prompted the officers to request the department's hazardous devices unit, said police spokesman Don Aaron during a Friday news conference, CNN reported.
An eerie warning was sent, before the explosion detonated, of a computerized female voice warned that a bomb would explode in minutes and cautioned those nearby to evacuate, followed by Petula Clarks’ 1964 song, “Downtown.”
Officers moved quickly knocking on doors and doing whatever they could to evacuate residents from the area. Officer Amanda Topping, one of the officers on the scene, tried to save lives until the explosion hit.
“I just saw the biggest flames I’ve ever seen, the biggest explosion,” Topping said, reported CNN. “I just saw orange and felt the heat, the wave.”
Police said that Warner appeared to have acted alone, according to FBI agent Doug Korneski, CNN reported.
Investigators are now trying to learn a possible motive, he explained.
”These answers won't come quickly," Korneski told CNN. "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.”
Warner was described by neighbors as low-key who rarely went out and spent a good part of his time working in his yard, and playing with his dogs. He was described as a person who never talked about politics or religion, according to the Tennessean.
Steve Schmoldt and his wife, who had lived next door to Warner for 25 years, told the newspaper that Warner appeared friendly, though, “some people would say he’s a little odd.”
“You never saw anyone come and go. Never saw him [Warner] go anywhere” Schmoldt said. “As far as we know, he was kind of a computer geek that worked at home.”
According to Schmoldt, Waner had kept the RV parked outside his home for years, and then a couple of weeks ago, had built a gate in the fence and drove the RV into his yard.
Another neighbor told the Tennessean Warner told him that he moved the RV because people were trying to break into the vehicle.
As news of the bombing spread on Christmas Day, Schmoldt said, he and his wife didn't even realize Warner’s RV was gone until the FBI and ATF showed up.
The mayor said on “Face the Nation” that his city was still trying to make sense of it all.
“It’s so shocking that on Christmas morning, this time of greatest hope, you have a bombing, a deliberate bombing. How can this be?” he said on “Face the Nation.” “And the public, I know, is anxious to try to understand it better.”
New developments in the case reveal that Michelle Swing, 29, a young music industry executive, was given two homes by Warner before his death, the New York Post reported.
The first home she was given was Warner’s family home in Antioch where Warner had last lived. He had gifted her the home Nov. 25, one month before the bombing, the newspaper reported.
Public records obtained by the Post show that in November, Warner signed the deed to the $160,000 property over to Swing, of Los Angeles, for no money.
Before his death, Warner had apparently been in a bitter legal battle with his 85-year-old mother, Betty Christine Lane, who allegedly sued him to get back the home. Lane, reportedly won the case, and Swing reportedly had to sign a quitclaim last July to give back the $250,000 house to Warner’s mother, who still lives there, according to records, the Post reported
The quitclaim deed paperwork does not include Swing's signature, the New York Post reported.