Motive in Nashville explosion still unclear as business owners return to ‘eerie’ site; Warner’s girlfriend warned of bomb-making in 2019
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Investigators were still unclear on a motive Wednesday as Nashville officials awaited word on whether they’d be receiving federal aid after the Christmas Day blast downtown.
Authorities were told Anthony Quinn Warner was building explosives more than a year before the Christmas Day blast in downtown Nashville, a newly obtained police report shows.
Warner’s girlfriend told Nashville police in August 2019 that he was “was building bombs in the RV trailer at his residence,” according to documents obtained by The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network.
While the report was flagged for both local and federal authorities, there appears to have been no action to stop Warner.
David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said Monday that Warner “was not on our radar” prior to Friday’s explosion, despite his girlfriend’s comments16 months earlier.
An RV was at the center of the Christmas explosion that police say killed Warner, injured three others, damaged more than 40 buildings, and led many to wonder what the Nashville man’s motive was.
Nashville police released an image of an RV that investigators linked to an explosion that took place downtown on Christmas morning.
Owners of businesses within the blast radius got a first look at damage Tuesday after the buildings had been blocked off behind an investigative perimeter since Friday.
“I’ve been fortunate to never have to be in a war zone so I can’t be sure this is what it would be like, but it feels like war, it feels eerie, it feels surreal,” photographer and art curator Ashley Segroves Bergeron told The Tennessean. “Everyone’s faces are dazed. The crew, the police, FBI, everyone. Just dazed and tired.”
Segroves Bergeron, who runs a gallery and art show room called Studio 208 just a block away from where the bombing took place, was among dozens of residents and business owners who assessed the damage on Tuesday.
The cleanup effort on Second Avenue, which is expected to take months, is not fully underway until the area is lifted from an FBI perimeter, thought it’s not clear when that will happen.
Nashville police said earlier this week that federal authorities expect to be processing the scene until at least the end of day Wednesday. Only then can public works and codes officials begin cleanup and assess whether buildings are structurally sound.
Police visit Warner’s home in August 2019
Metro Nashville Police Department officers arrived at the home of Warner’s girlfriend Aug. 21, 2019, on a call from the woman’s attorney, Raymond Throckmorton III, who told police Warner “frequently talks about the military and bomb making,” according to the documents.
But when officers then went to Warner’s residence, he did not answer the door, nor were police able to see inside of the RV that was parked at the house.
“They saw no evidence of a crime and had no authority to enter his home or fenced property,” Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron told The Tennessean.
An RV that looks like one involved in an explosion in downtown Nashville on Christmas is parked in the backyard of a home in Antioch, Tenn., in this Google Maps photo. Law enforcement authorities searched the home Dec. 26.
The bomber’s intentions appear to be “more destruction than death,” TBI director Rausch said Monday on TODAY, but some specifics on what led Warner to carry out the bombing might never be uncovered.
“We may never find out the exact reasoning behind the activity that took place,” Rausch said.
ABC News also reported investigators looked into possible paranoia surrounding 5G technology.
Contributing: Rachel Wegner, Mariah Timms, Natalie Allison of The Nashville Tennessean.