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Nashville bomber was driven by conspiracies, paranoia, FBI says

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Posted at 10:24 AM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 13:31:14-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The man who blew himself up in a Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville was grappling with feelings of paranoia and eccentric conspiracy theories before the explosion but did not appear to be motivated by political ideology.

That's according to an FBI report issued Monday, which stated the suicide bomber identified as Anthony Warner's actions have been determined not to be related to terrorism.

The FBI said a significant portion of the investigation into the Second Avenue explosion has been completed. More than 3,000 pounds of evidence was recovered from the blast site, where dozens of buildings sustained significant damage.

The explosion caused widespread AT&T outages in at least seven states for days, crippling 911 services across Tennessee and beyond.

"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 report reads.

Investigators conducted more than 250 interviews, speaking with those who knew Warner best, and analyzed his own writings to come to this conclusion.

The FBI statement sets out to resolve some of the lingering mysteries of an explosion that initially perplexed investigators and the public because it appeared to lack an obvious motive or fit a clear profile.

Though the blast damaged dozens of buildings, it took place early on a holiday morning well before downtown streets would be bustling with activity and was preceded by a recorded announcement warning anyone in the area that a bomb would soon detonate.

Investigators believe he chose the location on Second Avenue and the timing of the explosion so that it would be impactful, "while still minimizing the likelihood of causing undue injury."

The FBI said the investigation did not reveal indications of a broader ideological motive to use violence to bring about social or political change.

In the early days of the investigation, FBI Special Agent Doug Korneski indicated the use of force or violence in the furtherance of a political or social ideology was what investigators would be focusing on when considering the bombing as domestic terrorism.

The FBI's report ended with an important note saying only Warner knows the real reason why he detonated an explosive device on Christmas Day, but the agency is confident based on the available evidence that its conclusion is accurate.

More than a year before the explosion, Metro Nashville police received a tip that Warner was building bombs in the RV outside his home.

At the time, police went to Warner's home, saw the RV but never spoke with him. In February, Metro Council voted to create a nine-member Special Bombing Review Commission to take a hard look at the circumstances and response to the bombing.

This story was first published by Caroline Sutton at WTVF.