FBI releases conclusions on Nashville Christmas Day bombing

It’s been a couple of months since we heard anything new about Anthony Warner, the maniac who blew himself up on Christmas morning in downtown Nashville. The FBI has been using this time to conduct a thorough investigation, sifting through tons of physical evidence from the blast site and interviewing hundreds of witnesses and people familiar with Warner. They also had to track down more than 2,500 tips that were received on a hotline they set up for that purpose. Last night they released their preliminary findings, describing their progress as representing “a significant portion” of the investigation.

So what did they find? Don’t expect any groundbreaking revelations here. From the tone of this report, we don’t know a lot more now than we did in the early days after the explosion. The Bureau has concluded that the bomber was who we’d already assumed he was, that he committed suicide and the blast is not being treated as an act of terrorism. This report is from the FBI’s website.

The investigation found that Anthony Quinn Warner of Antioch, Tennessee, acting alone, built and ultimately detonated the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. His actions were determined to not be related to terrorism.

The investigative team took diligent steps to determine the reason or reasons why Warner decided to construct and ultimately detonate his device in downtown Nashville on December 25, 2020. The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Virginia, further assisted the local investigative team in answering this question.

Based on analysis of the information and evidence gathered throughout the investigation, the FBI assesses Warner’s detonation of the improvised explosive device was an intentional act in an effort to end his own life…

So they are classifying the explosion as really being nothing more than a case of suicide, albeit in a rather spectacular fashion. The FBI describes Warner as a man consumed by paranoia and conspiracy theories who fell into depression and lacked any stable, interpersonal relationships. These factors combined to drive him to end his own life.

The Bureau also concluded, much as we did from the peanut gallery, that Warner chose the time and location of his death with the intention of “being impactful” so people would remember him while avoiding collateral damage to other people as much as possible. That fits in with what we already knew, specifically the way that he chose a time and date when few people would be walking on the streets and played a recorded warning that the RV was about to explode for several minutes before the blast.

Answering the terrorism question, the FBI further concludes that Warner wasn’t trying “to use violence to bring about social or political change.” Nor was he seeking retribution against any individuals who might have been associated with the site of the blast.

Having ruled all of those things out, the incident doesn’t meet the definition of a terrorist attack or an attempt to injure any persons or property for a specific reason. It seems that Anthony Warner was just a lonely, depressed man who had fallen into paranoia and despair who decided to end his own life. But his fear of being a “nobody” on the world stage prevented him from simply being found dead in his house from a self-inflicted wound. Instead, Warner literally decided to go out with a bang.

One thing that the FBI either hasn’t accomplished or is keeping close to the vest is the location of Warner’s test sites. As we discussed previously, the type of bomb he constructed was very complicated and he ran the risk of failing to generate much more than a brief vehicular fire. The Bureau’s own analysts are convinced that a person with his background couldn’t possibly have pulled that off on the first try, so he must have taken a few practice runs somewhere. But even if they learn of that location, it doesn’t sound like it will add much to the story unless it somehow leads to proof that he had an accomplice. But does that sound very likely? It really doesn’t to me.