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Minggu, 27 Desember 2020

Nashville Christmas bomber Anthony Warner died in blast, remains IDed - Sydney Morning Herald

Nashville: The local IT consultant who set off a bomb in a motor home that rocked downtown Nashville on Christmas Day died in the explosion.

US Attorney Don Cochran identified the suspect on Sunday as Anthony Quinn Warner.

Investigators said they used DNA to identify the remains as Warner's. The FBI said they also matched the motor home's vehicle identification number to a registration belonging to Warner.

Longtime Nashville resident Anthony Warner, 63, had experience with electronics and alarms, according to public records, and had worked as a computer consultant for a Nashville real estate agent.

Douglas Korneski, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Memphis, said there was no indication anyone aside from Warner was involved in the bombing. Three people were injured and dozens of buildings were damaged.

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Officials have received hundreds of tips and leads, but have concluded that no one other than Warner is believed to have been involved in the early morning explosion that damaged dozens of buildings and injured three people.

“Nashville is considered safe," said Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake. "There are no known threats against this city.”

In publicly identifying the suspect and his fate, officials disclosed a major breakthrough in their investigation even as they acknowledged the lingering mystery behind the explosion, which took place on a holiday morning well before downtown streets were bustling with activity and was accompanied by a recorded announcement warning anyone nearby that a bomb would soon detonate.

Then, for reasons that may never be known, the audio switched to a recording of Petula Clark’s 1964 hit Downtown shortly before the blast.

Investigators have not uncovered a singular motive for the act nor was it revealed why Warner had selected the particular location for the bombing, which damaged an AT&T building and has continued to wreak havoc on cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states as the company worked to restore service.

Authorities said Warner, 63, was not known to law enforcement before the Christmas blast.

Earlier on Sunday, Tennessee police shut down a highway after they were alerted to a truck playing the same song heard just before the vehicle exploded.

The song Downtown was heard by police officers in the minutes before the explosion destroyed shopfronts in the area of Nashville known as downtown.

Highway patrol officers have detained the driver of the truck that had been parked at a convenience store after locals sounded the alarm, and shut a stretch of highway as a precaution.

Investigators walk near the scene of an explosion at Nashville, Tennessee. The explosion shook the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early Christmas morning.

Investigators walk near the scene of an explosion at Nashville, Tennessee. The explosion shook the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early Christmas morning.Credit:AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Authorities had assembled Saturday at Warner's home in Antioch, in suburban Nashville, located about 17 kilometres southeast of the explosion site.

Several neighbours described seeing a motor home, similar to the one that blew up on Friday morning, in the backyard of the Antioch home for several months prior to the blast.

Steve Schmoldt, Warner's next-door neighbour for 25 years, told the Tennessean that Warner was “kind of low key to the point of, I don’t know, I guess some people would say he’s a little odd".

Schmoldt said nobody ever seemed to visit Warner at home. “Never saw him go anywhere. As far as we knew, he was kind of a computer geek that worked at home.”

He said his neighbour never discussed politics or religion, never displayed signs in his yard or mentioned any beliefs.

Schmoldt said while Warner built a gate in his fence two weeks ago and drove his motor home into the back yard.

“To be honest, we didn’t really pay any attention it was gone until the FBI and ATF showed up,” Schmoldt told the Tennessean.

Separately, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press that federal investigators have started examining Warner's digital footprint and financial history. They are also examining a recent deed transfer of a home in suburban Nashville.

The official could not discuss the case publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The official said forensic analysts are reviewing evidence collected from the blast site to try to identify the components of the explosives and are also reviewing information from the US Bomb Data Center for intelligence and investigative leads.

This image taken from surveillance video provided by Metro Nashville PD shows a recreational vehicle that was involved in a blast on Christmas day in Nashville.

This image taken from surveillance video provided by Metro Nashville PD shows a recreational vehicle that was involved in a blast on Christmas day in Nashville. Credit:AP

Police officers provided harrowing details Sunday of responding to the Christmas morning explosion in downtown Nashville, at times getting choked up reliving the moments that led up to the blast and offering gratitude that they were still alive.

“This is going to tie us together forever, for the rest of my life,” Officer James Wells, who suffered some hearing loss due to the explosion, told reporters at a news conference. “Christmas will never be the same.”

"I just see orange and then I hear a loud boom. As I'm stumbling around, I just tell myself to stay on my feet and to stay alive,” Wells said, at times tearing up.

The five police officers who responded to a report of gunshots on Christmas morning have revealed that after an ominous bomb threat was broadcast from the car in a robotic female voice, Petula Clark’s 1964 hit Downtown started playing. Then the bomb went off.

Officer Amanda Topping said she initially parked their police car beside the motor home while responding to the call before moving it once they heard the recording. Topping said she called her wife to let her know that “things were just really strange” as she helped guide people away from the RV.

That's when she heard the RV recording switch from a warning to playing Clark's hit, Downtown. Moments later the explosion struck.

Nashville Police Officer Amanda Topping heard the song played just before the explosion.

Nashville Police Officer Amanda Topping heard the song played just before the explosion. Credit:AP

“I felt the waves of heat but I kind of just lost it and started sprinting toward (Wells),” Topping said. "I've never grabbed someone so hard in my life.”

Nashville Mayor John Cooper said the very specific location of the bombing, next to the AT&T building, indicated it was meant to be an attack on service, and that the city may need help in hardening its infrastructure in the wake of the attack.

"It feels like there has to be some connection with the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing," he told CBS News on Sunday. "It's got to have something to do with the infrastructure."

AT&T said in a statement that more than 75 percent of the service sites affected by the explosion had been restored.

The blast rocked the city around dawn Friday. The motor home exploded on the city's Second Avenue, a popular stretch with bars, and usually buzzing music venues and restaurants. The blast devastated the surrounding area and damaged more than 40 businesses. Three people were hospitalised with injuries. There were widespread disruptions to cell service and the internet.

A police officer at the scene of the explosion in downtown Nashville early on Christmas Day.

A police officer at the scene of the explosion in downtown Nashville early on Christmas Day.Credit:AP

Cooper said during the news conference that he had recently spoken to US Senator Marsha Blackburn, who said she had spoken with President Donald Trump about the need for federal aid.

Governor Bill Lee asked Trump on Saturday for federal assistance in response to the explosion, noting the downed communication systems and damage to businesses were too much for the state to handle alone.

"The businesses there, they've just - going through COVID, they've had the worst nine months that you could have as a business,"Cooper said. "And then now to be affected by a bombing. Of course, we're going to need help and we may need some help in hardening our infrastructure."

Investigators remove items from the basement of a home Saturday

Investigators remove items from the basement of a home SaturdayCredit:Mark Humphrey, AP

  • Additional reporting by Toluse Olorunnipa, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky.

AP, The Washington Post, staff writers.

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2020-12-27 22:32:00Z
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