Lion’s Roar Staff
Christmas morning is usually a time of celebration, but in downtown Nashville, that was far from reality. A suicide bomber detonated an RV in downtown Nashville at 6:30 am. This bombing injured eight people and damaged several buildings. The explosion also caused days-long communication service outages, as it took place adjacent to an AT&T network hub.
People near the RV claimed to have heard gunshots. The perpetrator, Anthony Quinn Warner, used the loudspeakers on the RV to warn people to evacuate before the explosions. The FBI has determined that the 63-year-old bomber acted alone.
The Nashville Fire Department evacuated the riverfront and the mayor issued a curfew for the affected area. Additionally, the FAA issued a notice declaring a circular area with a radius of a nautical mile centered around the explosion, as “National Defense Airspace” effective for five days. This means that the portion of airspace is restricted due to concerns over national security. Although no one died, the outages from the explosion affected residents across the US, particularly Middle Tennessee. They disrupted the local 911 service and the city's COVID-19 hotline. The bombing adversely affected many small businesses in the area, which were already suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of a tornado, earlier in 2020.
Around the country, authorities acted with a heightened sense of caution. On the same day as the bombing, police in Cincinnati, Ohio, shut down streets downtown for several hours, while investigating an RV that appeared to have its engine running outside of a federal building. A couple days later, on December 27, a section of US Highway 231 in Wilson County, Tennessee was shut down due to a box truck playing audio “similar to what was heard” before the Nashville Christmas bombing. The driver was arrested with two felony counts, but no explosives were found at the scene. On New Years Eve, police had to evacuate downtown Lexington, Kentucky , due to a suspicious RV parked in the area. The police brought in a sniffing dog to inspect it, although the dog alerted of explosives, no explosives were found.
There is still an ongoing investigation to find the motives behind the Nashville Christmas day bombing. Investigators searched Warner’s house in Nashville following the bombing and they seized several items. Neighbors told local news outlets that the RV sat unused until about a month after the bombing. His neighbors described him as a recluse and he never discussed his political or religious views. Although no clear motive has been determined, Warner was believed to have some unusual interests. He spent time searching for aliens in a nearby state park. Investigators found his writings rambling about various conspiracy theories.
In an interview with the Associated Press, FBI Special Agent Jason Pack said that investigators are “aware the suspect sent materials which espoused his viewpoints to several acquaintances throughout the country”. These pieces of correspondence are said to have been about various conspiracy theories, about the moon landing, 9/11, and that aliens were guised as people taking over the government. He made statements about everything being an illusion, and that “death is not real”.
Investigations on this bombing are ongoing, but they have sparked national debate over what to label as terrorism or domestic terrorism. The story is surrounded by much controversy, because of the lack of media coverage as well as the fact that the perpetrator’s identity has not been more widely covered compared to the perpetrators of other terrorist attacks.