Two days after a bomb rocked downtown Nashville on Christmas morning, a spokesman for Police Chief John Drake stated that Anthony Q. Warner, 63, has been named as a suspect in the RV blast that killed him and injured three people. Hours after the initial announcement, U.S. Attorney Donald Q. Cochran confirmed that DNA samples from the site of the bombing and from a home recently owned by Warner in the Nashville suburb of Antioch were a match.
“Anthony Warner is the bomber,” Cochran, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said at a press conference. “He was present when the bomb went off and he perished in the bombing.” At the same press conference, the FBI agent leading the investigation Douglas Korneski also announced that “there is no indication that any other persons were involved.” Investigators previously stated that Warner had a similar make and model RV to the one that exploded outside an AT&T building at 6:30 a.m. on Friday.
Except for the apparent death of the suspect, no one was killed in the blast, which sent over 250 agents from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to the capital of Tennessee. On Christmas morning, six police officers first responded to reports of shots fired near the RV around 5:30 a.m. As the officers approached the vehicle, a recording reportedly played of an automated female voice saying, “This area must be evacuated now,” and warning of a detonation in 15 minutes. As the countdown crept toward zero, the officers state that the speakers began to play the song “Downtown” by Petula Clark — including the lyrics “the lights are much brighter there.” At 6:30 a.m., the camper ignited. “It was just this huge fireball explosion,” a witness told CNN, of the bomb which collapsed one building and damaged 40 others in the immediate vicinity. In the press conference announcing the DNA match at the scene, FBI special agent Korneski did not say whether or not the bureau was considering the attack to be an act of domestic terrorism.
According to the New York Times, investigators found that Warner had recently given away a car he owned, recently announced he was retiring from his role as an information technology specialist, and told someone close to him that he had cancer. (The veracity of that final claim that has not yet been confirmed by law enforcement.) He did, however, purchase bomb-making components, according to financial records obtained by investigators. Warner’s work history reportedly includes a background in electronics.
Though federal investigators are still in Nashville gathering evidence and determining the specifics of the bomb itself, authorities consider the attack to be an isolated incident. “Let me be clear that Nashville is safe,” Metro Police Chief John Drake said on Saturday. The repercussions, however, are ongoing. On Sunday, over 48 hours after the blast, some police and hospital communications systems were still out in Tennessee and surrounding states.