A video has emerged that appears to capture a warning message that emanated from the RV that exploded in the Christmas morning Nashville bombing.
A witness told The Tennessean that the RV also broadcast a 15-minute countdown before blowing up, saying, “Whoever did it did give fair warning.” You can watch the video later in this article.
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 authorities. Forensic scientists confirmed a DNA match, authorities said. They scoured surveillance video and saw no one else near the RV, leading them to believe that Warner acted alone. Warner, 63, of Antioch, Tennessee, was a computer contract worker. The motive is not yet clear.
“Anthony Warner is the man believed responsible for this horrible crime,” said Nashville Police Chief John Drake.
Heavy ran an address linked to Warner in online records on Google Maps, and there is a very similar RV visible in the yard.
Here’s another picture of the RV parked at the address that comes up for Warner.
Early on Christmas morning, around 6 a.m., officers received a mysterious shots fired call, although they say it’s not yet clear whether there actually was gunfire. “They encountered an RV that had a recording that said a potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes,” police said in a noon news conference on December 25. “Officers decided to evacuate the building nearby.”
About a half hour later, the bomb went off, creating what authorities described as a “massive crime scene.” Three people suffered minor injuries, and a police officer was knocked off his feet. Authorities said there were “announcements coming from the RV.”
The parked RV exploded in an area of downtown Nashville that contains residential units. It was parked outside of an AT&T building. Several buildings were damaged. You can see videos and photos throughout this article.
The warning message has added an unusual twist to the bombing story.
WKRN-TV reported in a live broadcast that a message was “playing from the RV” before the blast. The video below, which was posted on a new Twitter page but also published by local Nashville television stations, captures a message urging people to evacuate. It’s not clear whether the suspect was inside the RV when it exploded, authorities said.
“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 the video.
Police have not identified a suspect or motive in the bombing, but they say it was an “intentional act.” A number of officers were in the area when the blast occurred, authorities said in the news conference. CBS News is reporting that authorities found human remains near the blast scene, but they haven’t said whether they are the suspect or a victim.
According to CNN, Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman confirmed that a female voice was speaking in the recording, and said, “There were a number of people who did evacuate and then we know of some people, it didn’t go off when the message said it would and so people started coming back in, and then it went off,” he explained.
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
One Facebook post claimed that the “RV was broadcasting a message that it contained a bomb and that we had limited time to evacuate. That went on for 20 minutes or so and then the message changed to a countdown. It said we had 15 minutes to evacuate.”
This Facebook post from a fellow Nashvillian corroborates this video, though there are conflicting stories on where the voice was actually coming from. pic.twitter.com/Iojvun1MYR
— Katie (@thatgirlkatie) December 25, 2020
Here’s what you need to know:
A Man Walking His Dog When the Explosion Occurred Told Local Television He Heard What Sounded Like a ‘Recording’ Coming From the RV
A man who was walking his dog in the area told WKRN-TV during its live broadcast that he heard a recorded message that said something like, “Step away from this vehicle. Don’t approach this vehicle.” At first he thought it was coming from a police vehicle, then realized it wasn’t.
“I realize now it must have been that RV that was doing that,” he said. He saw two officers walking near the Hooters restaurant. “A guy from a hotel was yelling we have to evacuate,” he said.
An officer was walking toward the dogwalker and “right then, boom.” The video above captures the dogwalker and the sound of the blast.
“At 6:32 Christmas morning, @MNPDNashville and @NashvilleFD responded to the scene of an explosion on 2nd Ave, approximately one block north of Broadway,” Mayor John 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.”
Witnesses Reported Hearing Rounds of Gunfire Before the Blast
Betsy Williams, who owns the Melting Pot restaurant on the street where the explosion occurred, told The Tennessean that she heard “multiple rounds of loud, rapid-fire gunshots” around 4:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, so she called 911.
She also heard the recording, and she told the newspaper she believed it said, “Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode.” She fled with her family still in their pajamas.
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 is occurring out of an “abundance of caution.”
He said the initial call, before the explosion, came in as a shots fired call. However, authorities have not yet confirmed whether shots actually were fired.
— derry_london (@Derry_London) December 25, 2020
Responding officers saw that the “RV was parked there. There were circumstances about the RV that caused the officers to request the bomb squad.” The police spokesman said police don’t know if anyone was inside the RV when it exploded.
When the explosion went off, it “knocked one of our officers to the ground,” the police spokesman said. No officers were severely hurt, but one suffered temporary hearing loss. “There were a number of officers working a call when the explosion occurred,” he said. Officers are now “conducting searches of downtown buildings to make sure there’s no one in need of help.” Several buildings sustained damage.
Witnesses said there were three rounds of gunfire minutes apart, according to WKRN-TV’s live broadcast. The anchor questioned whether that was also a warning or whether it was an attempt to draw police to the area.
“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.
The blast rattled Nashville, but it occurred on a quiet Christmas morning without loss of life.
“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.
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
A WKRN journalist reported speaking to a man in the area who also heard the sound of what he thought were multiple gunshots.
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.”
The Mayor Promised to ‘Get to the Bottom of it’
Nashville Mayor John Cooper said in a news conference, “As for the explosion, we’ve got great people working on it, and we’ll get to the bottom of it. 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.”
Video shows the damage after the explosion. Nashville resident Buck McCoy went live from the scene.
Oh my god! This video from downtown #Nashville of the explosion!!!
This is from Buck McCoy on Facebook! pic.twitter.com/xA1J8AgyGc
— Ryan Graney👩🏻🦰 (@RyanEGraney) December 25, 2020
“These are pictures from 2nd Avenue south. Windows were broken out from explosion area to Broadway. Please AVOID this area!,” the Nashville Fire Department wrote.
These are pictures from 2nd Avenue south. Windows were broken out from explosion area to Broadway. Please AVOID this area! Media staging is at 2nd Avenue south and KVB. pic.twitter.com/tocdpHWFgj
— Nashville Fire Dept (@NashvilleFD) December 25, 2020
Another journalist reported that the police bomb squad was making sure there weren’t car bombs in the area. NewsChannel5 reported that federal authorities were helping investigate. It’s not clear what materials ignited the explosion, but there was a fairly large blast zone.
In June, the Tennessean caused controversy by publishing a paid advertisement from a “fringe religious group” that it says “featured a bizarre, pseudo-religious ‘prophecy,’ including the declaration of an impending nuclear attack in Nashville by ‘Islam.'” There’s no indication at this point that it’s linked to the Christmas Day explosion, though. Newspaper officials apologized for the ad.