NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The man authorities believe was responsible for setting off a Christmas Day bomb that injured three people and damaged dozens of buildings in downtown Nashville told a neighbor days before the explosion that “Nashville and the world is never going to forget me.”
Rick Laude said he saw Anthony Quinn Warner standing at his mailbox on Dec. 21 and pulled over in his car to speak with him. After asking how Warner’s elderly mother was doing, Laude said he casually asked him, “Is Santa going to bring you anything good for Christmas?” Laude said Warner smiled and then said, “Oh, yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me.”
Laude, 57, a commercial truck driver, said he didn’t think much of the remark and thought Warner only meant that “something good” was going to happen for him. He said he was “speechless” later when he read that authorities had identified Warner as the suspected bomber.
“Nothing about this guy raised any red flags,” Laude said. “He was just quiet.”
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
With federal officials having identified the man believed to be behind Nashville’s Christmas Day bombing, authorities now turn to the monumental task of piecing together the motive behind the explosion that severely damaged dozens of downtown buildings and injured three people.
While officials on Sunday named Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, as the man behind the mysterious explosion in which he was killed, the motive has remained elusive.
“We hope to get an answer. Sometimes, it’s just not possible,” David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a Monday interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “The best way to find motive is to talk to the individual. We will not be able to do that in this case.”
In just a few days, hundreds of tips and leads have been submitted to law enforcement agencies. Yet thus far, officials have not provided information on what possibly drove Warner to set off the explosion. According to officials, he had not been on the radar before Christmas. A TBI records report released Monday showed that Warner’s only arrest was for a 1978 marijuana-related charge.
“It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death but again that’s all still speculation at this point as we continue in our investigation with all our partners,” Rausch added.
Furthermore, officials have not provided insight into why Warner selected the particular location for the bombing, which damaged an AT&T building and continued to wreak havoc on cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states as the company worked to restore service.
Forensic analysts were reviewing evidence collected from the blast site to try to identify the components of the explosives as well as information from the U.S. Bomb Data Center for intelligence and investigative leads, according to a law enforcement official who said investigators were examining Warner’s digital footprint and financial history, as well as a recent deed transfer of a suburban Nashville home they searched.
The official, who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said federal agents were examining a number of potential leads and pursuing several theories, including the possibility that the AT&T building was targeted.
Korneski said Sunday that officials were looking at any and all motives and were interviewing acquaintances of Warner’s to try to determine what may have motivated him.
The bombing 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.