Christmas Bomber Propelled by Conspiracies, Paranoia: FBI

The FBI’s Memphis field office said it determined the explosion in Nashville Christmas morning was a suicide, not terrorism.

Police block off a part of the Broadway tourist district in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 28, 2020, after a bombing on Christmas Day. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(CN) — The FBI announced Monday the man who detonated a recreational vehicle in Nashville on Christmas morning acted alone and without an ideological motive or vendetta that would make the explosion an act of terrorism.

Instead, the FBI’s Memphis field office said in a press release Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, died by suicide after choosing a block in downtown Nashville so that the event would leave an impression while minimizing the chance of injury. Warner, the FBI said, had been propelled by an embrace of conspiratorial thinking and experienced paranoia.

Warner died in the blast that injured three others.

The “FBI assesses Warner’s detonation of the improvised explosive device was an intentional act in an effort to end his own life, driven in part by a totality of life stressors – including paranoia, long-held individualized beliefs adopted from several eccentric conspiracy theories, and the loss of stabilizing anchors and deteriorating interpersonal relationships,” the press release said.

The explosion happened around 6:30 a.m., after Warner’s RV broadcast a countdown along with Petula Clark’s 1964 song “Downtown.” The fireball in the pre-dawn blew out windows and strewed glass, bits of trees and brick for blocks.

Because the explosion occurred near an AT&T connection point, it disrupted cell and internet services in several states.

In the days following, investigators quickly narrowed in on Warner and concluded he acted alone. As the FBI took the lead in investigating the incident, it focused on the why.

Before he took his own life, Warner had reportedly espoused theories about UFOs and lizard people.

In total, about 277 FBI personnel worked on the case, traveling from as far away as Miami, Portland and San Francisco.

While the FBI is confident its conclusion is correct based on its interviews of the people who knew Warner and what he wrote in the past, “it is important to note that only Warner knows the real reason why he detonated his explosive device,” it said.

A review exploring why the Metro Nashville Police Department failed to investigate further when it was called to Warner’s home in August 2019 remains ongoing, according to an MNPD spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Nashville Mayor John Cooper said in a statement the FBI’s announcement is yet another step in the rebuilding of the city’s downtown.

“We’re making progress on salvaging historic materials from the blast zone, restoring public infrastructure and engaging with experts and neighbors to imagine a future Second Avenue,” Cooper said.

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