Ever since the RV exploded in Nashville on Christmas morning, law enforcement has insisted that they had no threat indicators and that the apparent bomber was “not on our radar.” However, The Tennessean reported late yesterday that police had been warned sixteen months earlier that Anthony Warner had begun building an explosive device in that very RV. Police responded to the call in August 2019, but got stymied by the lawyer representing the couple:
In the aftermath, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Warner was “not on our radar” prior to the bombing. But a Metro Nashville Police Department report from August 2019 shows that local and federal authorities were aware of alleged threats he had made. …
On Aug. 21, 2019, the girlfriend told Nashville police that Warner “was building bombs in the RV trailer at his residence,” the MNPD report states. Nashville police then forwarded the information to the FBI.
Officers were called to the home of Warner’s girlfriend, roughly a mile and a half from Warner, who lived at 115 Bakertown Lane.
Police were called by the woman’s attorney, Raymond Throckmorton III, who was concerned about comments she had made. When they arrived, they found her sitting on the porch with two unloaded guns nearby.
Here’s a copy of the report, although it’s not easy to read in this format (update: Jeff Dunetz has a better version embedded here):
BREAKING: we just received this report from @MNPDNashville showing Anthony Warner’s girlfriend reported he was making bombs in an RV one year ago. The FBI said earlier this week Warner was not on law enforcement’s radar prior to this incident. #nashvillebombing @WSMV pic.twitter.com/fYga92BIzP
— Brittany Weiner (@brittweinerTV) December 30, 2020
Police went to Warner’s property after talking with the woman and the attorney and found the RV. As the Tennessean reports, the police observed that Warner had installed a number of security cameras and hung an alarm sign on the vehicle — certainly not illegal, but at least curious under the circumstances. The attorney and the girlfriend told police that Warner talked repeatedly about his time in the military and his prowess at bombmaking, which Throckmorton said was no idle boast:
Throckmorton, who said he represented both Warner and the woman, told officers Warner “frequently talks about the military and bomb making,” the document said.
Warner “knows what he is doing and is capable of making a bomb,” the attorney said to the officers, according to the report.
After not getting any response at the residence, police followed up with the FBI and ATF, but Warner had no record with either agency. They asked Throckmorton to arrange an interview with Warner, but Throckmorton declined. He also refused to ask Warner for permission to allow police to search his property, saying that “Warner did not care for police.” Without evidence of a crime and no way to inspect the vehicle, police ended up dropping the matter. While that seems curious in retrospect, the lack of action might have been unavoidable under the circumstances. One does have to wonder whether police followed up with the girlfriend for more detailed threat assessments or just let the matter drop altogether. Their “not on our radar” comment makes it seem like the latter, and that will raise questions now, especially after the lack of initial transparency on this early warning about Warner’s potential threat.
That still leaves the question of motive, however, at least from this report. Could it be as simple that Warner was just some cop-hating “hippie”? The Daily Beast spoke to Tom Lundborg, a former friend and co-worker who hadn’t been in contact with the apparent suicide bomber in more than a decade, but he remembers all too well Warner’s hostility toward law enforcement:
“I worked with Tony as his helper. I kind of looked up to him. He was kind of a hippie. Had long hair, a Magnum, P.I. mustache,” Lundborg told The Daily Beast. “He was a smart cocky kind of guy. I rode around with him all day every day—during the summers, at least for a couple years.”
Lundborg said Warner disliked authority, loved smoking weed and claimed he’d just gotten out of the Navy. (It’s unclear whether Warner was ever in the U.S. Armed Forces, but records show he was arrested for marijuana possession in 1978.)
They drove around listening to 103 KDF, previously Nashville’s main rock station, and if Warner spotted a police officer, he’d break his silence to lecture the teenage Lundborg.
“I hate cops. They’re all corrupt,” Warner would say. “Never trust a cop.”
That may be old information, but Throckmorton’s comments to police in August 2019 suggest that nothing had changed about Warner’s attitude toward the police. It also fits the crime itself: someone called in a false report of shots fired in the vicinity before the explosion, which seemed designed to put police into range of the explosion. However, the RV played a warning that explicitly declared that a bomb would shortly go off — which not only gave police a chance to escape the trap, but would also allow six brave officers to evacuate the area first. If the idea was to target the police, those tactics were self-defeating, although the blast did injure three officers who were still working on evacuations.
Other circumstances make it less likely that we may ever find a rational answer to motive. It might just have been a suicidal urge married to fame, as one neighbor’s testimony hints, but that theory has flaws too:
It seemed like a friendly chat between neighbors. Only after a bomb exploded in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning could Rick Laude grasp the sinister meaning behind his neighbor’s smiling remark that the city and the rest of the world would never forget him.
Laude told The Associated Press on Monday that he was speechless when he learned that authorities identified his 63-year-old neighbor, Anthony Quinn Warner, as the man suspected of detonating a bomb that killed himself, injured three other people and damaged dozens of buildings.
Laude said he saw Warner standing at his mailbox less than a week before Christmas and pulled over in his car to talk. After asking how Warner’s elderly mother was doing, Laude said he casually asked, “Is Santa going to bring you anything good for Christmas?”
Warner smiled and said, “Oh, yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me,” Laude recalled.
So maybe Warner just wanted to get famous as his final act. But if that were the case, then why didn’t Warner do what everyone else does to get famous these days — create social-media accounts? It’s not as if Warner was a Luddite; he worked as an IT consultant for several years after his work in the burg-fire alarm industry. If Warner wanted a platform for fame, wouldn’t he have opened Twitter and/or Facebook accounts and posted an anti-police manifesto before blowing himself up? After all, could he have been sure that police would be able to link him to this bombing?
For that matter, we haven’t yet seen confirmation that Warner conducted the bombing himself, or did it alone. Warner could have been incapacitated in his RV by someone else who conducted the bombing, but that seems a bit farfetched. Laude’s testimony strongly suggests that Warner had something deliberate in mind, and a couple of strange property transfers by Warner also indicate that he planned to do something:
A young music industry executive has found herself at the heart of the Nashville Christmas bombing investigation — after mysteriously being gifted two homes by crazed loner Anthony Quinn Warner.
Los Angeles-based AEG Presents exec Michelle Swing, 29, was given two properties on the same street in suburban Nashville in the last year, paying nothing despite them being worth more than $400,000 combined, according to property records.
They include the house in Antioch that Warner had last lived in — one he gave to her on Nov. 25, a day before Thanksgiving and exactly a month before his devastating suicide attack in his explosives-laden RV.
That’s the house that police used Google Maps and saw the RV parked in Warner’s yard. How did Swing know Warner? Her mother had sued Warner over the first house, and got the house in July when she won the case. For some reason, exactly a month before Christmas, Warner quit-claimed the second house to Swing without her knowledge, Swing claims. However, Warner did send her a letter informing her that the basement had some sort of surprise, and that Warner would be traveling on Christmas Eve:
NASHVILLE suspected suicide bomber Anthony Quinn Warner told the woman he gifted his two homes to that he “intended to travel on Christmas Eve to spend a few weeks in the woods with his dogs,” The US Sun can reveal.
In a November letter to Michelle Swing, 29, revealing he had signed a house over to her, Warner said his basement was “not normal” and urged her to “take a look”. …
The letter contains detailed information about the home he gifted her last month.
It concluded with the bizarre and sinister lines: “The attic has plywood and lighting, take a look. The basement is not normal, take a look. Woof woof Julio”.
Police have already searched through the house, but haven’t yet shared any details about it in public. It sounds as though Warner might have been setting a trap for Swing to settle a score, but the US Sun reports that police didn’t appear to find anything amiss at all, and nothing to link him to the explosion, except perhaps the titles to his vehicles.
The FBI did find a computer and thumb drive, and perhaps those might contain more of Warner’s thoughts leading up to his apparent suicide. Realistically, though, we may well be left with nothing but a mystery, just as we were with the Las Vegas massacre. We can at least be thankful that Warner’s exit proved much less deadly to everyone but himself.