BI officials have identified the bomber behind downtown Nashville’s Christmas Day attack. In a Sunday afternoon press conference, U.S. Attorney Don Cochran announced 63-year-old “Anthony Warner is the bomber. He was present when the bomb went off, and he perished in the bombing.”
Explosives used by Warner are still under investigation, authorities said, and the FBI said the man had not been on the radar of authorities before Friday’s explosion. DNA found at the scene reported as “flesh” found in the debris, was matched to samples taken from another location where investigators searched. “Because they had identified a suspect, investigators said they were able to match samples to a potential family member quickly” reported the Tennessean.
The Nashville officers who first attended the bizarre and harrowing scene on Friday morning spoke publicly for the first time on Sunday as well. Officer James Luellen received a report of shots fired before 6 a.m. Luellen said he was unsure about the sound of gunfire but soon heard the warning coming from the RV about a bomb. Luellen notified a second Officer, Brenna Hosey, and then Sgt. Timothy Miller, who told them to start evacuating everyone they could.
Luellen, Hosey, and Officers Michael Sipos, Amanda Topping and James Wells, began knocking on doors to alert residents to evacuate. “Hosey describes after getting in contact with everyone they could, trying to regroup at their vehicles until the bomb squad arrived, when the message said three minutes were left until detonation” reports the Tennessean.
Wells parked his car next to the RV and said as he was making his way back to move his car, he heard a voice telling him to go back and check on Topping. Just steps later the bomb went off and threw him to the ground. Topping described attending Wells, saying, “I’ve never grabbed somebody so hard in my life” as they took whatever shelter they could inside a doorway.
Hours of surveillance footage showed only Warner, and authorities do not currently have any indication that anyone else was involved. The FBI has not released a motive and says the incident is still under investigation; authorities declined to deem the explosion as an act of terrorism. Police are asking for help from anyone who knows Warner to help determine a motive.
“These answers won’t come quickly and will still require a lot of our team’s effort,” said FBI Special Agent for Public Affairs Doug Korneski. “None of those answers will ever be enough for those who have been affected by this event. We still have work to do.”