Speculation is growing that the AT&T building was intentionally targeted in the Nashville Christmas Day bombing as the FBI probes rumors that the main suspect in the attack harbored deep paranoia about 5G technology.
Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, was named in local media as the FBI’s sole person of interest hours after an RV exploded outside Nashville’s AT&T building on Friday morning, leaving three people injured and multiple structures damaged.
The explosion is thought to have been the result of a suicide bombing after it was revealed that human remains had been recovered at the scene and officials said they were not looking for another suspect.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper on the morning of Sunday, December 27, 2020, said he suspects that the AT&T transmission center was targeted in the attack.
Cooper told CBS News’ Face the Nation that it ‘feels like there has to be some connection to the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing’.
Law enforcement sources told CBS that Warner is believed to have died in the explosion as DNA tests are performed on the remains. The outlet reported that the FBI received at least two tips about Warner prior to the blast.
WSMV Nashville said that the FBI was digging into claims that Warner was paranoid about the idea that Americans are being spied on using 5G, which could explain the location of the explosion.
FBI agents raided Warner’s home on Bakerstown Road in Antioch on Saturday morning. Several neighbors described Warner as an ‘oddball’ and said they’d seen an RV parked outside the home which matched the one used in the attack.
It has been reported that the $160,000 home had been transferred for free to 29-year-old Michelle Swing on November 25 – but she claims she was unaware of the exchange.
FBI investigators are said to be probing whether Warner’s alleged paranoia about 5G technology could have motivated the attack outside the AT&T building.
Widespread WIFI and cell phone outages hit Tennessee and Kentucky after the the blast, bringing down local 911 and emergency service phone systems.
The telecommunications issues also caused problems for Nashville International Airport which were forced to temporarily shut off some flight paths as a result.
Agents also spent time searching another location on Saturday, as well as Warner’s home, and spoke to a Nashville real estate agent who called in to say Warner used to work for him.
Steve Fridrich told WSMV that Warner was a subcontractor who had done IT work for him for years. He claimed agents asked him about whether Warner had spoken about 5G in the past but he said no.
‘Nice guy. You know, he was a techie guy – don’t mean anything negative about that. He would do this thing and leave. He didn’t bother anybody. He did his thing and leave,’ Fridrich said.
Officials on Saturday did not identify a suspect as the raid on the home began but unmarried Warner has been named in media reports and a vehicle matching the one used in the bombing is seen parked up beside the two-bed house in Google street view images.
According to Newsweek, authorities will swab Warner’s mother to determine if he is a match to the remains found at the bomb site.
The second home that Warner had transferred to Swing was also located on Bakertown Road just a short walk from the house raided on Saturday.
The transfer took place in January 2019, just months after he had acquired the house in an intra-family exchange.
The house originally belonged to Warner’s father Charles but was passed to Warner’s brother Steve after Charles’ death in 2011.
Steve also died of cancer in September 2018, a month after Warner acquired the house.
Swing’s address in the record for the transfer is listed as Lenoir City, Tennessee, a two-hour drive from Nashville.
In March 2019, she also used a quitclaim to give away the house to a person named Betty Lane, according to county records.
According to her LinkedIn profile, she studied Marketing and Business and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she remained working until 2012 when she moved to California.
Swing first lived in San Francisco before a move to Los Angeles in October 2018, where she works in artist development for Anschutz Entertainment Group.
The Daily Beast has reported that suspect Warner was previously arrested in January 1978 and found guilty on an unspecified felony charge in 1980.
He has been described as an ‘oddball’ by neighbors, some of whom had reported seeing the RV used in the explosion parked outside of his home.
Tony Rodriguez lives in the second home within the duplex that agents raided on Saturday but told the Washington Post that he never spoke to his neighbor and did not know his name.
He alleged that Warner kept ‘No Trespassing’ signs around the home, especially around the RV, and was often seen tinkering with antenna above the house.
Rodriguez also claimed that investigators had taken a computer motherboard from Warner’s house during the search.
Another neighbor Steven Stone, 61, confirmed that he had seen a similar RV parked outside of Warner’s place.
‘When I looked out my window and saw all the law enforcement that’s when it hit me that I’d see the camper up there,’ he told USA Today.
Friday’s blast emanated from a white RV parked outside the AT&T building on 2nd Avenue at 6.40 am. The explosion injured three people and caused severe damage to the city’s downtown area.
Shocking surveillance video of the explosion shows a police officer had just walked away from the site when the bomb exploding, barely missing finding themselves in the line of fire for flying debris.
The event had led investigators on a frantic chase to determine who the vehicle belonged to.
On Saturday afternoon, a swarm of federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were seen outside an address listed to Warner in the Nashville neighborhood of Antioch.
Neighbors reported seeing a white RV parked outside his property within the past two weeks. A similar vehicle can also be seen on a Google Street View search of Warner’s address from May 2019.
According to CBS, “at least two tips were called into the FBI about Warner prior to the explosion’.
During a press conference on Saturday afternoon, the FBI refused to identify any person in their investigation.
They say they are still pursuing approximately 500 leads and have close to 250 agents and analysts assigned to the case.
The Bureau is also investigating whether the blast was deliberately designed to target law enforcement officers.
Cops had been called to 2nd Avenue shortly before the explosion amid reports of a shooting. However, they arrived to find the white RV playing a recorded announcement saying that it would explode in 15 minutes.
One expert is now theorizing that the spooky recording was designed to bring as many cops and first responders as possible into the area with the intention of killing or maiming them.
‘I kind of think it was probably an idea to get first responders to come in,’ ex-NYPD Detective Bill Ryan told Fox News on Saturday.
Six cops have now been hailed as heroes after they descended on the area and tried to clear out pedestrians and residents before the bomb went off.
On Saturday, Tennessee Gov Bill Lee revealed that he has requested an emergency declaration from President Donald Trump to support ongoing efforts and relief.
‘This morning I toured the site of the bombing. The damage is shocking and it is a miracle that no residents were killed. I continue to pray for those who sustained injuries from the blast,’ he wrote on Twitter.
It comes as Nashville police confirmed that they are investigating whether human remains have been found at the site of the bomb blast.
According to CNN, tissue was discovered at the scene, and forensic experts are now working to determine whether it is human.
It is unclear whether anybody was inside the RV at the time it detonated.
The gigantic blast caused damage to more than 40 buildings, with new videos showing the widespread impact it created.
One shocking clip shared on social media shows an apartment building violently shaking during the blast.
A resident told CNN on Saturday: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it. It shook everything’
Meanwhile, other videos being shared widely on social media show people hiding for cover in buildings along 2nd Avenue as they were warned by cops that the RV could explode.
One man was walking his dog right by the RV and heard the warning message emanating from the vehicle.
Quick-thinking cops quickly told him to get back just before the bomb went off. He told WKRN that it is a ‘Christmas miracle’ he is still alive.
On Saturday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration classified the airspace over the site of the bombing as ‘National Defense Airspace’.
The order prohibits pilots from flying over the site and a surrounding area of one nautical mile. The restriction will stay in place until December 30.
Meanwhile, the area on the ground has still been cordoned off and there is a strong police presence.
Nashville Mayor Cooper said it will be ‘some time’ before 2nd Avenue is open as normal.
On Friday evening, he announced curfew on the area around the bomb site as the investigation continued.
‘A curfew will start at 4:30 pm, Friday, Dec 25. and be lifted Sunday, December 27 at 4:30pm,’ he revealed in a tweet.
The blast blew in windows from at least 41 buildings, according to CNN. One building is now partially collapsed.
The RV was parked outside an AT&T facility, with the explosion causing network outages to the company’s phone and internet services.
That issue sparked safety fears as 911 dispatchers were reportedly having trouble identifying the location of callers.
USA Today reports on Saturday that outage issues lasted into the evening. It is now believed they have all been resolved.
Meanwhile, more information is being learned about the hero cops who tried to clear the area after they arrived to find the RV playing a recording saying it would explode.
They were named by Metro Police Chief John Drake as Officer Brenna Hosey, Officer James Luellen, Officer Michael Sipos, Officer Amanda Topping, Officer James Wells and Sergeant Timothy Miller, as he praised them for rushing into danger to save others.
The officers had been responding to reports of shots fired 40 minutes before the explosion when they found an RV located outside of an AT&T transmission building which was playing an announcement featuring a woman’s voice saying it would explode in 15 minutes.
There was no evidence of shooting at the scene and it is not known of the sounds could also have come from the RV’s recording. Cops have not revealed who made the initial shooting report.
They rushed to get people out of their homes while the ominous, pre-recorded message played over and over again with music playing in between each countdown before the van eventually exploded at around 6.40 am.
‘These officers didn’t care about themselves,’ Chief Drake said. ‘They didn’t think about that. They cared about the citizens of Nashville. They went in and we’d be talking not about the debris that we have here but potential people.’
Despite the devastation of the blast, miraculously only three people were injured.
They were rushed to hospital in non-life-threatening conditions.
FBI Special Agent in charge Matt Foster made a plea to the public for information on Friday night.
‘The FBI stands with the city of Nashville today in this very tragic Christmas Day event,’ Foster said.
‘This is our city too. We live here, we work here. We’re putting everything we have into finding who was responsible for what happened here today.
‘There are leads that need to be pursued and technical works need to happen.’
Anyone with information about the incident has been asked to contact the FBI at www.fbi.gov/nashville or by calling them.
On Friday night, star of CNBC’s The Profit Marcus Lemonis also offered a $250,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the culprit.
It brought the reward total to $300,000 after previous smaller reward offers from Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., FOX Sports host Clay Travis, and Lewis Country Store.