UPDATED MONDAY, DEC. 28 AT 8 A.M., PACIFIC TIME
The “person of interest,” has been identified as Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, of Antioch, a suburb of Nashville, who died in the blast. The best theory so far on his motive was that he believed he would be “hailed as a hero” for targeting a huge AT&T network, which was located close to where his RV exploded. “He was believed to be ‘heavily into conspiracy theories,’ especially over fears that 5G networks were killing people,” an unidentified source told the Daily Mail.
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Even as residents of Nashville, Tennessee, try to get back to normal after the early Christmas morning bombing via motorhome, authorities continue their intense investigation. While some new facts have been developed, and a person of interest identified, it will be quite a while before locals get over the Nashville RV explosion.
RV at center stage
Security camera footage from the downtown Nashville area shows an older model Class C motorhome on the streets after dark on Thursday. On Friday morning, that same rig took center stage near a transmission shop on Second Avenue North. What may or may not be connected were phone calls police dispatchers received from concerned citizens at about 5:30 in the morning: Shots fired!
Police quickly responded to the area and, once on scene, found the white rig with a public address system broadcasting a terrifying message. What some call a “computerized woman’s voice” announced, “Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode.” Police quickly fanned out and began banging on doors, urging nearby residents to get out to safety. The message from the RV turned more ominous when it announced, “This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes.” A minute later, a countdown began.
Near the end of the countdown, a final message: “If you can hear this message, evacuate now.” What followed, reported people from miles around, was a brilliant flash of light, a thunderous noise, and a fireball. The RV, as promised, exploded.
In the aftermath, at least three people were injured. A police officer was knocked off his feet and to the pavement. At least 40 buildings in the area suffered damage, many with windows blasted out of them. Near “ground zero” a tall building owned and occupied by telecom giant AT&T, considered to be a well-protected construct, took a serious beating. Cellular phones, internet service, and landlines – even in distant locations – went dead.
Even more alarming, emergency 9-1-1 service to major areas of the state also blacked out, forcing emergency responders to attempt to the get word out as to how people could call for first-responders in an emergency. Outgoing flights at the nearby Nashville International Airport were grounded for a number of hours when the telecommunications breakdown created control issues.
Downtown Nashville was soon swarming with law enforcement types, headed up by the FBI. Before the sun dropped below the horizon, causing investigators to set up portable lighting, authorities made a discovery at the explosion scene: flesh, of one sort or another. By Saturday, tests confirmed the flesh found was human tissue. The question remains, “Whose?” Was it the bomber, or a “collateral damage” victim?
Camping World connections
Who was behind the Nashville RV explosion? That’s become Nashville’s burning question. It didn’t take long for a reward to be offered for information that would help answer the question. The local visitor and convention bureau put up a $10,000 reward offer. The same group later upped the ante to $35,000.
But an interesting RV connection with big numbers popped up. Before the day of the bombing was over, Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, tweeted out, “We can’t have our streets terrorized like this.” Lemonis then pledged a quarter-million dollars toward the reward fund. Somebody used an RV to do damage, now somebody with RV industry connections wants to do some repair work. Put together with additional pledges from FOX Sports host Clay Travis, and Lewis Country Store, the grand total sits at $300,000. The FBI is seeking tips and has posted a special webpage to receive them.
Person of Interest
By Saturday, investigators said they had a person of interest. A Google street view image, taken some time before the explosion, shows an RV that looks an awful lot like the image of the one said to be the bomb delivery rig. Parked behind a board fence next to a duplex in a nearby residential neighborhood, police say it was owned by Anthony Quinn Warner, a 68-year-old man. Warner’s home is in the Antioch neighborhood, just a few miles southeast of the downtown area.
Warner, say news media accounts, recently deeded the place away. However, the recipient of the home, a California woman, wasn’t even aware she now owns the place. Under Tennessee law, a quit-claim deed can be made out to anyone, even without their knowledge. Still, as far back as 2007, property assessment photos show the same motorhome parked in the backyard. Warner is single, has no children, and is licensed as an alarm contractor.
Where is Anthony Quinn Warner? Is he responsible for the Nashville RV explosion? Those are two questions that have yet to be answered. But the FBI reportedly wants to take a DNA swab from Warner’s mother. A DNA test, compared to what was found at the blast site, may go a long way toward answering both those questions.