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Nashville Christmas bombing was not an act of terrorism, FBI says

CBS News logo CBS News 3/15/2021 Victoria Albert
Volunteer Group Helps Clean Up Nashville Bombing Site © Alex Kent / Getty Images Volunteer Group Helps Clean Up Nashville Bombing Site

The man who detonated a bomb in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning was carrying out a plan to die by suicide and was not attempting to commit a terrorist attack, the FBI announced Monday. The FBI's report is the most comprehensive explanation yet of the motives of 63-year-old Anthony Warner, who died in the blast. 

In a news release, the FBI said it has completed a "significant portion" of its investigation into the blast and concluded that Warner acted alone in building and detonating the device. The bureau reviewed over 3,000 pounds of evidence from the blast site, sorted through more than 2,500 tips and conducted more than 250 interviews.

The FBI said Warner's actions were "determined to not be related to terrorism," adding that their analysis did not reveal an intent to cause social or political change or to resolve a personal grievance.  

Instead, investigators said the bomb was an "intentional act in an effort to end his own life" that was "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 damage in Nashville on December 31, 2020. / Credit: Alex Kent / Getty © Provided by CBS News The damage in Nashville on December 31, 2020. / Credit: Alex Kent / Getty

As CBS News previously reported, Warner sent packages with writings and videos promoting conspiracy theories to multiple people in the days before the blast. In one of the letters contained in the packages, Warner claimed aliens have been attacking Earth since 2011 and shared the conspiracy theory that the planet is controlled by lizard people.   

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The blast occurred after Nashville police responded to a report that shots had been fired near an AT&T data center in the city. When police arrived on the scene, they found an RV with covered windows blaring a warning that a bomb would soon detonate. The RV exploded at about 6:30 a.m.

a store front at night: Surveillance footage shows the RV suspected of being used in the Nashville bombing on December 25, 2020.  / Credit: Metro Nashville Police Department via Getty © Provided by CBS News Surveillance footage shows the RV suspected of being used in the Nashville bombing on December 25, 2020.  / Credit: Metro Nashville Police Department via Getty

Investigators said Warner intentionally chose the location and the timing of the explosion to minimize the chances of injuring others. Three people were wounded in the blast, which also crippled AT&T services in the area for days. 

The bureau cautioned that "only Warner knows the real reason why he detonated his explosive Device," but said investigators are confident that their assessment is accurate.  

Jordan Freiman, Pat Milton, Jeff Pegues and Andres Triay contributed reporting. 

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