Officials in Nashville said that the man they believed set off a bomb in a recreational vehicle that shocked downtown Nashville on Christmas morning died in the explosion.
Don Cochran, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, identified Anthony Quinn Warner as the man who bombed the city on Friday. Warner was “present when the bomb went off, and then he perished,” Cochran said Sunday at a news conference.
Investigators linked the 63-year-old Antioch, Tennessee, man to the blast using DNA. The FBI said it also matched the RV’s vehicle identification number to a registration belonging to Warner.
Investigators don’t believe anyone else was involved in the explosion, according to FBI Special Agent Douglas Korneski.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation records show that Warner was arrested in January 1978 for marijuana possession but that appears to be the extent of his criminal record.
TBI Director David Rausch cautioned on Monday that a motive for the explosion may not be easily found.
“We hope to get an answer. Sometimes, it’s just not possible,” Rausch told the “Today” show. “The best way to find motive is to talk to the individual. We will not be able to do that in this case.”
“It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death, but again that’s all still speculation at this point as we continue in our investigation with all our partners,” Rausch added.
The recreational vehicle exploded early Christmas Day on a street in downtown Nashville, injuring at least three people and damaging dozens of buildings. The explosion occurred outside an AT&T switching station, causing widespread communication outages.
Police emergency systems in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama — as well as Nashville’s COVID-19 community hotline and several hospital systems — were out of service after the blast.
“Given its importance to customers and first responders, we prioritized restoration of wireless service,” AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh said in a statement Sunday evening. “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.”
Before they confirmed Warner’s identity using DNA analysis, authorities investigated him as a person of interest connected to the blast. Warner had experience with electronics and alarms and worked as a computer consultant for a Nashville real estate agency, according to public records reviewed by The Associated Press.
Investigators from federal and local law enforcement agencies searched Warner’s home Saturday in Antioch, a Nashville suburb. Google Street View images of the home show a white RV parked behind a fence on the property.
Court records reviewed by USA Today showed a quitclaim deed transfer of Warner’s residence from the suspect to a person with an address in Los Angeles on Nov. 25 for zero dollars.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced on Sunday that a curfew in a zone affected by the explosion will extend from 4:30 p.m. CT Sunday to noon CT Monday.
Police said the explosion came from the vehicle soon after a speaker system broadcast a warning for people to evacuate the area. The speakers then switched to Petula Clark’s 1964 song “Downtown.” Moments before the blast, police recalled hearing the song’s lyric about going to the city to seek refuge from sadness: “The lights are much brighter there.”
“This is going to tie us together forever, for the rest of my life,” said Nashville Police Officer James Wells, who experienced some hearing loss as a result of the blast, at a news conference Sunday morning. “Christmas will never be the same.”
Ryan Grenoble contributed reporting.