NASHVILLE — Federal agents said Monday the Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville was motivated by the bomber’s intention to kill himself and was not an act of terrorism.
After a wide-ranging investigation, the FBI said in a report that the bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner, acted “in an effort to end his own life.” The FBI said Warner was motivated by several “stressors” including “paranoia” and several “eccentric” ideas.
“Warner specifically chose the location and timing of the bombing so that it would be impactful, while still minimizing the likelihood of causing undue injury,” the FBI said in a news release.
Multiple agencies converged to investigate the blast, which destroyed some buildings and severely damaged several others along Nashville’s historic Second Avenue.Warner died in the explosion.
Investigators say Warner, 63, used an RV packed with explosives to engulf a city block at about 6:30 a.m. Christmas morning. He announced his presence beforehand and warned people to evacuate through a loudspeaker that played the Petula Clark song “Downtown” and broadcast an eerie countdown in a computerized female voice.
Residents fled from their loft apartments in pajamas as police officers swept through buildings in a desperate attempt to get people out before the blast. Warner was the only person killed.
The RV was parked outside an AT&T switch facility, and the resulting damage crippled telephone and internet services across the region.
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Federal agents investigated the possibility the attack might have been motivated by a political ideology or a wide range of baseless conspiracy theories. Authorities said they are aware of conjecture linking the the bombing with conspiracy theories related to the 2020 election and the roll-out of the 5G cellular network, among other things.
The federal probe considered the criminal implications of the bombing and is not related to ongoing local reviews focused on how law enforcement handled early warnings in 2019 that Warner was building explosives.
The FBI worked for months on the investigation, which required agents to sift through dirt and broken brick for pivotal clues. The agency flew more than 3 tons of debris and soil to its crime laboratory in Virginia, according to Nashville police.
Agents also interviewed several of Warner’s friends and associates.
Multiple ongoing investigations remain underway to determine if the Nashville police department could have done more to prevent the bombing. Metro Council members and community leaders say police were not aggressive enough in the face of a credible tip against Warner in 2019.
More:Nashville police were warned in August 2019 that Anthony Warner was ‘capable of making a bomb,’ documents show
Police briefly investigated Warner in August 2019 after his girlfriend told officers he was building a bomb in his RV. Her lawyer told police Warner “knows what he is doing and is capable of making a bomb,” according to an internal report.
Officers visited Warner’s home, saw the RV and noted several security cameras on the property. They checked Warner’s record with the FBI but later stopped pursuing the tip without speaking to him.
Police Chief John Drake asked a five-member panel — which includes two police leaders and three people outside of the department — to address any lapses in that investigation.
The Nashville council also created a Special Bombing Review Commission to investigate handling of the bombing and to recommend policy changes.
Reach Adam Tamburin on Twitter @tamburintweets.