Anthony Quinn Warner was a 63-year-old Tennessee computer contract worker named as the Nashville bomber who detonated a parked RV in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas morning, according to Nashville’s police chief. An RV similar to the one used in the Nashville bombing was parked at Warner’s home address in images on Google Maps and Google Earth, Heavy discovered.
Authorities have now matched human tissue recovered at the blast zone to Warner’s DNA. “We’ve come to the conclusion that an individual named Anthony Warner is the bomber,” U.S. Attorney Donald Q. Cochran, Jr. declared in a December 27 news conference. Warner was “present when the bomb went off” and “perished in the bombing,” said Cochran. Forensic scientists confirmed a DNA match, he said. It took about nine hours to get one. Authorities also scoured surveillance video and saw no one else near the RV, leading them to believe that Warner acted alone.
The FBI’s Memphis office released this photo of Warner.
The #FBI, @MNPDNashville & @ATFHQ continue to ask that those who may have known Anthony Quinn Warner or encountered him, call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit a tip online at https://t.co/5F7LGAvEVF. @ATFNashville https://t.co/PuSFMNbh3D https://t.co/H0MVT4pkfg pic.twitter.com/AXBOpW9lSc
— FBI Memphis (@FBIMemphis) December 28, 2020
“Anthony Warner is the man believed responsible for this horrible crime,” said Nashville Police Chief John Drake.
Nashville police released body cam video that shows the RV before the explosion and captures the sound of the blast.
The first clue emerged pointing toward a possible motive; WSMV-TV’s Jeremy Finley reported that FBI agents have been “pursuing tips that he (Warner) was paranoid about 5g spying on Americans.” Since the pandemic hit, conspiracy theories have raged that 5G cell phone towers spread COVID-19; scientists have found the claims baseless, according to BBC. In May, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned of the potential for attacks by 5G conspiracy theorists against cell towers and wireless providers. However, that’s only one motive being considered, the television station reported. Asked about the possible 5G motive, authorities said only, “We’re aware of certain things online, and we’re looking at every possible angle.”
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said forensic scientists processed evidence from the crime scene and compared it to evidence collected from a vehicle used by Warner. They found a DNA “match at both locations,” he said. In part, they used a hat and gloves. Douglas Korneski, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis office, said “human remains discovered at the scene” were Warner’s. “There is no indication that any other persons was involved. We’ve reviewed hours of security video…we saw no other people involved around that vehicle,” he said. Tips from the public proved crucial. A vehicle identification number was unearthed from the blast zone, he said.
Authorities told CNN the explosion was likely a suicide bombing. Authorities said in the news conference that a label of domestic terrorism has to be tied to a political or social ideology. “We haven’t tied to that yet,” they said, as a definite motive remains a mystery so far.
The song “Downtown” by Petula Clark was playing from the RV right before the blast, authorities said. That song’s lyrics start, “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go downtown…”
It appears that Warner was shedding elements of his already isolated life in recent weeks; he gave up a job earlier this month and gave up his house for nothing to a California woman last month. He told an ex-girlfriend that he had cancer, according to The New York Times.
Warner, who was unmarried and childless, was self-employed in the IT area, a neighbor said; state records show he once was licensed as an alarm contractor, with a specialty in burglar alarm installation.
In recent years, the reclusive Warner, known as Tony to some, lost a father and brother, leaving him with few living family members. On Saturday, a Newsweek editor said DNA swabs were being collected from Warner’s mother, “possibly to help identify human remains.” Authorities said they matched items from Warner and a relative to conduct the DNA match, but they wouldn’t confirm the relative was his mother.
Heavy reached a neighbor of Warner’s who confirmed that the FBI and ATF were at Warner’s longtime house along Bakertown Road in Antioch, Tennessee, which is a Nashville neighborhood. Documents show Warner transferred the home to a Los Angeles woman a month before the blast, however. It was the second house he’d quitclaimed to her in the past year, although the reason is unclear.
According to the Tennessean, police visited Fridrich & Clark Realty’s office in Green Hills to follow up leads; the owner told the newspaper that Warner once worked for the company. The owner had contacted authorities with tips. Warner worked as a contract laborer doing computer consulting but told the company by email earlier this month that he wasn’t going to work for them anymore. The owner told the newspaper that Warner seemed “very personable” and the bombing “quite out of character.” Warner fixed broken computers for the company.
Warner had deep roots in the Nashville area; Heavy found an old picture of Warner in a 1974 Antioch High School yearbook. He was a junior in high school when this was taken. Warner doesn’t have any obvious/confirmed social media profiles to emerge so far. The chief gave the suspect’s name as Anthony Q. Warner.
The neighbor didn’t want her name printed, but she said he “lived here a long time. He was quiet, kept to himself.” Even though she’s lived near him for 25 years, the neighbor said she’s never known his last name. She described Warner as a white male with a “slight” build, standing about 5-feet-5-inches tall, with “grayish hair, kind of long.” She noticed that the RV, which had been parked in his yard, was moved a couple of days ago, and it’s not there now. She said Warner had lived at the home since at least 1995. The home is assessed at $89,900.
The bomber’s motive puzzled many because the bomber made deliberate efforts to encourage people to evacuate the area using a recorded message of a woman telling people to leave. The recording was interspersed with music and included a countdown, authorities said. However, the bombing also disabled a major communication network, because it occurred near a significant AT&T facility; CNN reported that it knocked out much of the region’s wireless service and that authorities are investigating whether it was the bomber’s target. Mobile service was back up but not internet, and authorities were hoping the site will be at full capacity by December 27, authorities said in an earlier news conference.
Rausch said on the Today show of Warner’s motive, “We don’t know if we’ll every get there….We may never find out the exact reasoning behind the activity that took place.” Nothing’s emerged so far of a known political ideology or even social media profiles.
Videos and photos showed investigators had converged on Warner’s former home. Here’s video from the search of Warner’s Antioch residence:
In a December 26 press conference, authorities declined to confirm the release of Warner’s name, which was first reported by CBS News, but they did release it the following day. They said they had more than 500 investigative leads and were looking into multiple individuals. They said they don’t believe there are any active threats. “Let me reiterate that Nashville is safe. We feel and know that we have no known threats at this time,” Metro Police Chief John Drake said.
Here’s a Google Maps image of the RV parked at Warner’s home address:
Here’s how it looks in Google Earth:
Below is the lone image of the RV used in the blast that was released by Metropolitan Nashville police. CNN reported that a tip about the RV used in the explosion led authorities to the Antioch home for a “court-authorized search.”
BREAKING: This is the RV that exploded on 2nd Ave N this morning. It arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m. Have you seen this vehicle in our area or do you have information about it? Please contact us via Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463 or online via https://t.co/dVGS7o0m4v. @ATFHQ pic.twitter.com/JNx9sDinAH
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 25, 2020
Two days after the Nashville bombing, on December 27, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department in Tennessee revealed that deputies detained a box truck driver who was parked outside a Walter Hill convenience store “playing audio similar to what was heard before the Christmas Day explosion in Nashville.” Read more about that story here. It turned out to be a hoax.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Neighbor Says Warner Worked in ‘Computers’ & Was Unmarried Without Children; State Records Show He Had a License to Install Alarms
A neighbor told Heavy that Warner told her once that he “worked for himself in computers. That was a long time ago.” She also said she believed he was “self-employed in IT.”
The neighbor said Warner had no family — no wife or kids that she knew of. She said he “was very good to the animals he had.” She said he had little dogs, and “when they got older, he built them a ramp so they wouldn’t have to climb.”
Online records show that Warner’s name is linked to a company called Custom Alarms Electronics, but it doesn’t come up in corporate records. AllBiz.com says of that company, “Custom Alarms Electronics is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and was founded in 2000. This business is working in the following industry: Electrical installation. Annual sales for Custom Alarms Electronics are around USD 70,000.00.” It lists Warner’s name as the principal and the Bakertown Road address. It’s described as an “alarm contracting company” in state records.
Here’s his expired license for that work.
The neighbor said that Warner would wave and say hi, but he generally kept to himself.
She said she was “shocked to see the ATF and FBI” at his house. “It’s a little quiet neighborhood street,” she said.
As for the RV, she said he would “park it in his backyard and then move it. A couple days ago, I noticed it was moved.”
Warner doesn’t come up as a registered voter in Tennessee records. People on Twitter are widely sharing an old expired explosives handler identification registration in his name; however, Tennessee state records give a different city for that Anthony Warner, and there are three people with that name in the latter city, none Anthony Quinn Warner, 63.
Realtor Steve Fridrich told WSMV-TV that Warner did computer contracting work for him. He said that he tipped authorities off that they should look at Warner for the bombing. He also told the television station that FBI agents “asked him whether or not Warner had paranoia about 5G technology,” but said he didn’t have any information about that.
The television station reported that “agents are investigating whether or not Warner had paranoia that 5G technology was being used to spy on Americans.”
The damage to the communication infrastructure was significant, due to the proximity of the blast to the AT&T building. AT&T wrote in a December 27 statement:
The AT&T building on 2nd Avenue suffered significant damage in the blast. That facility includes connection points for regional internet services as well as local wireless, internet and video. In the hours that followed the explosion, our local service remained intact through temporary battery power. Unfortunately, a combination of the explosion and resulting water and fire damage took out a number of backup power generators intended to provide power to the batteries. That led to service disruptions across parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. More than 48 hours later, some customers are still experiencing outages. We know it is frustrating and we apologize for the inconvenience. We also thank you for your understanding.
What has made network restoration so difficult is doing it while maintaining the integrity of an active crime scene in cooperation with federal and local law enforcement. Hundreds of employees – our own AT&T employees as well as first responders – have stepped in over the last two days to restore service. We’ve restored power to multiple floors in the building and deployed over 25 temporary satellite cell towers and 24 additional trailers of disaster recovery equipment across the impacted area.
Given its importance to customers and first responders, we prioritized restoration of wireless service. As of now, 96% of our wireless network is restored, 60% of our business services are restored, and 86% of our consumer broadband and entertainment services are restored. It is our goal to restore all service late today.
On Christmas Day, AT&T wrote, “Power is essential to restoring wireless and wireline communications and we are working with law enforcement to get access to our equipment and make needed repairs. Given the damage to our facility it will take time to restore service. We have already rerouted significant traffic from this facility and are bringing in other equipment, including numerous portable cell sites to the area.”
On social media, one popular theory deals with AT&T’s ties to the NSA. In 2018, the Intercept alleged that NSA electronic spying facilities were located in AT&T buildings in cities across the country. However, the article does not mention Nashville.
Snopes debunked another conspiracy theory – one that alleges that AT&T had a contract to audit Dominion Voting Systems. First of all, nothing has emerged establishing any ideology espoused by Warner, whose internet footprint is meager. According to Snopes, “both AT&T and Dominion have disclaimed the notion that the former company was engaged in audit of the latter, or that any Dominion-related systems were being moved to Nashville in preparation for a ‘forensic audit’ (by anyone). No available external evidence suggests AT&T was involved in any such audit, either.” We’ve contacted Dominion and AT&T directly to ask about those claims.
To AT&T, we asked whether the Dominion forensic audit claims were true and whether it’s true the facility in Nashville was used as an NSA substation/hub/facility. Jim Greer, spokesman for AT&T, told Heavy in an email, “I can confirm the conspiracy theory about Dominion is not true. Anything related to the investigation or the government, I’d have to refer you to law enforcement.”
The Tennessean reported that the bomb squad cleared the Bakertown Road property on the afternoon of December 26 and confirmed that no one was inside the property.
Authorities said they have no information of additional explosive threats. In a press conference on December 26, they called the bomber the “ultimate scrooge.”
Police said almost immediately that the blast was “an intentional act.”
#UPDATE: Don Aaron with Metro police says it appears the RV explosion "was an intentional act." The scene at 2nd/Commerce in downtown Nashville will be active for an extensive period of time. ATF, FBI and other agencies involved in investigation. We are LIVE on @WKRN. pic.twitter.com/SfYilpVdqf
— Josh Breslow (@JoshBreslowWKRN) December 25, 2020
“An explosion linked to a vehicle occurred at 6:30 this morning outside 166 2nd Ave N downtown. Investigation active by MNPD & federal partners,” Metro Nashville Police confirmed in their first statement on the explosion.
It’s not clear what ignited the explosion specifically, but there was a fairly large blast zone.
The downtown Nashville blast damaged a large section of 2nd Avenue early on Christmas morning. Three people were injured, but not seriously, and at least 41 buildings were damaged in the historic neighborhood, the mayor said in an earlier press conference.
“MNPD, FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation and ATF investigating the 6:30 a.m. explosion on 2nd Ave North linked to a vehicle. This appears to have been an intentional act. Law enforcement is closing downtown streets as investigation continues,” police wrote on their Facebook page.
A video captured part of the recorded message that the RV was blaring before the explosion. The message urged people to evacuate; police officers who arrived at the scene heard it, and heroically started to evacuate residents in the mix-use historical neighborhood, authorities said in a news conference. The police chief said in a news conference that the RV’s recording included a countdown that started at 15 minutes, urging people to evacuate and telling them how much time they had to do so.
“If you can hear this message, evacuate now. This area must be evacuated now,” a woman’s recorded voice says in a monotone voice in a video that captured part of the recorded message:
The RV that was rigged with explosives had a loud speaker recording that announced a bomb would explode in 15 minutes. The FBI evacuated nearby buildings. The fact there was a tip off means personnel were not the target, so perhaps it was the AT&T building. #nashvilleexplosion pic.twitter.com/SRYAyNEDmF
— Syrian Girl 🎗️🇸🇾 (@Partisangirl) December 26, 2020
Officer James Luellen arrived first at the scene. “Initially we got a shots fired call. I was running zone that night so I took it,” he said in a news conference. The actions of the officers were widely praised. “I arrived on scene. Initially I didn’t hear any shots fired. We were told shots were coming from inside the building.” He said it was a liquor store/apartment complex and Airbnb. He couldn’t see or hear anything so he requested access to get inside the building.
“The RV started making an announcement. Somewhere along the lines, there’s a large bomb within this vehicle. Your primary objective is to evacuate,” said the officer. Another officer was at the scene. The recording “started over.” He called a police sergeant, who said, “Get everyone you can out there.”
2. A Quitclaim Deed Says That Warner Recently Gave His House to a Los Angeles Woman for Free, but She Claims She Knows Nothing About It
Online records say that Warner first showed up at the property address with the RV in the 1980s and was there through 2020.
A quitclaim deed available through Davidson County records shows that on November 25, 2020, Warner, for unclear reasons, gave the property in Antioch to an unmarried Los Angeles, California, woman named Michelle Swing for $0. The deed confirms that Warner was unmarried. Michelle L. Swing has ties to Tennessee and is 29 years old, according to online records. Her Facebook page is deleted. Daily Mail reached Swing and reported she claimed she knew nothing about the house, but they called her “Lisa Swing.” They later changed the name to Michelle. Swing is an artist development director at AEG Presents.
She told Daily Mail: “In the state of Tennessee you can deed property to someone else without their consent or their signature or anything. I didn’t even buy the house he just deeded it over to me without my knowledge. So this all very weird to me, that’s about all I can say.” According to Daily Mail, Swing declined to say whether she had ever met Warner or had family ties to him, saying, “I’ve been told to direct everything else to FBI.”
The Sun obtained a letter that Warner allegedly sent Swing. “The attic has plywood and lighting, take a look. The basement is not normal, take a look. Woof woof Julio,” part of it reads.
Here’s the home’s tax record:
Here’s the history of tax payments:
A second property at a different address on Bakertown Road was previously transferred to Swing via quitclaim deed. First, the property belonged to Warner’s parents. It was quitclaimed to his brother, and then to Anthony Q. Warner, who quitclaimed it to Swing. See the second record here. In March 2019, Swing quitclaimed the property to a woman named Betty Lane. That home is worth about $249,000. Lane is Warner’s mother. The mom sued Warner in a dispute over who should get the house, Daily Mail reports.
Neither woman has been accused of having any knowledge about or involvement in any wrongdoing related to the Nashville bombing.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper previously called the bombing a “one-off event.”
“As for the explosion, we’ve got great people working on it, and we’ll get to the bottom of it,” he said in a news conference. “It seems intentional, but I think it’s just a one-off event, and people should not be concerned about it. But in a year that has had everything else, let’s add an explosion to it.”
An explosion linked to a vehicle occurred at 6:30 this morning outside 166 2nd Ave N downtown. Investigation active by MNPD & federal partners.
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 25, 2020
“At 6:32 Christmas morning, @MNPDNashville and @NashvilleFD responded to the scene of an explosion on 2nd Ave, approximately one block north of Broadway,” Cooper tweeted. “Metro Police confirm the source of the explosion came from a vehicle. The cause of the explosion is under investigation with help from federal authorities. MNPD will share updates as they become available and is restricting downtown traffic. Be safe Nashville. Thank you to our emergency personnel for your quick response.”
3. Warner Has an Old Arrest History From the 1970s & Had Little Close Family Left
Anthony Warner, of the same age as the man named by authorities, has an arrest history for felony controlled substances in Davidson County, Tennessee. You can see that arrest record here. The conviction dates to the late 1970s.
In addition to being unmarried and without children, Warner had lost two close family members in the last decade, leaving him with a sister and nephew, according to his father’s obituary, in addition to his mother. His father was known as “Popeye.” Warner’s high school yearbook lists him as playing golf. Heavy reached a high school classmate who knew his brother, but Anthony Warner made so little of an impression that she didn’t remember him.
According to Daily Mail, Warner’s dad once worked for BellSouth, a former AT&T subsidiary.
Here’s another yearbook picture of him, an even younger one from his sophomore year.
He has relatives with ties to New York state, according to online records. The obituary that appears to be for his father doesn’t mention “Tony” Warner having a spouse, but it does list a brother and sister. The obituary says his dad was from Nashville and died there in 2011. In 2018, his brother died of cancer, according to a post his sister made in an Antioch High School alumni group.
4. Authorities Say Warner Wasn’t on Their Radar Before the Explosion, but Vehicle Parts Helped Identify Him
— shamillion (@HoltShameica) December 25, 2020
According to journalist David Begnaud, a CBS News national correspondent, “At least 2 tips were called in to @FBI about Warner, prior to the explosion.” What those tips said has not yet been released.
However, authorities denied that Warner was on their radar before the blast. They also said that vehicle parts helped identify Warner as the bomber. Special agents combed the area and found vehicle parts that helped connect the RV to Warner, authorities said.
BREAKING: @jeffpeguescbs reports for CBS News: Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, is the person of interest in the Nashville Christmas Day explosion. At least 2 tips were called in to @FBI about Warner, prior to the explosion. Quinn is a Nashville area resident https://t.co/FCZdy13a6b
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) December 26, 2020
When the explosion went off, it “knocked one of our officers to the ground,” the police spokesman said. No officers were severely hurt. One suffered temporary hearing loss. “There were a number of officers working a call when the explosion occurred,” he said. Officers were “conducting searches of downtown buildings to make sure there’s no one in need of help.”
Police closed a 10-block radius of the Tennessee city’s downtown, according to WSMV-TV.
— Jeremy Schott (@thejeremyschott) December 25, 2020
According to WKRN-TV, the explosion occurred in the area of Second Avenue and Broadway near Commerce Street around 6:30 a.m. on Christmas Day.
5. Police Responded to Shots Fired Reports Before the Blast; Warner’s Ideology Remains a Mystery
As of this tweet, he said, there is no person of interest or suspect in custody. https://t.co/xEMMDXp5bM
— Natalie Neysa Alund (@nataliealund) December 26, 2020
A neighbor told The Tennessean that Warner placed lights and security cameras outside his house. He never talked about politics or religion, and neighbors weren’t sure what his ideology was. In fact, no concrete information on Warner’s political beliefs has emerged, other than the FBI’s queries on 5G conspiracy theories.
Police initially were called to the area for a report of shots fired. Witnesses have also told Nashville news outlets that they heard gunfire. When police arrived, the chief said in a news conference, they encountered the RV playing the recorded message that warned people to evacuate. Six police officers have been celebrated as heroes for beginning to evacuate residents in the area, despite not knowing for sure if the bomb would detonate when the recording claimed it would.
Officer Brenna Hosey, Officer James Luellen, Officer Michael Sipos, Officer Amanda Topping, Officer James Wells and Sergeant Timothy Miller were named as those who evacuated residents.
A WKRN journalist reported speaking to a man in the area who reported hearing what sounded like multiple gunshots. It’s not clear whether they really were gunshots, however. Authorities haven’t yet confirmed that there was actual gunfire.
JUST IN: Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management district chief said a parked RV exploded and caused damage to several buildings. No injures reported. Metro crews are working to assess damage. This is near 2nd/Commerce. #NashvilleExplosion @WKRN https://t.co/G2jOCcDeBK pic.twitter.com/MUCh6cy4bq
— Nickelle Smith (@NickelleReports) December 25, 2020
Phil Williams, a reporter with NC5, wrote, “Explosion in downtown Nashville, apparently from parked vehicle on 2nd Ave. Fire department personnel being told to pull back two blocks from explosion site, concerned about potential vehicle bombs. Police bomb squad and fire hazmat team on scene.”
— Phil Williams (@NC5PhilWilliams) December 25, 2020
A police spokesman said in a news conference, “The immediate downtown area has been sealed off by law enforcement. A number of police dogs have been called and are now searching the area… to make sure there are no secondary devices. We have no indication there are secondary devices.” The search occurred out of an “abundance of caution.”
The police spokesman said that officers saw that the “RV was parked there. There were circumstances about the RV that caused the officers to request the bomb squad.” He said police don’t know if anyone was physically inside the RV when it exploded.