By Ken Bredemeier
U.S. authorities said Sunday they are investigating a 63-year-old man named Anthony Warner in connection with the Christmas dawn explosion that rocked a commercial district in the southern city of Nashville, Tennessee.
Investigators on Saturday searched Warner’s home in the suburb of Antioch about 18 kilometers from the blast site in a Nashville neighborhood filled with country music bars and restaurants.
Several neighbors of Warner said they had seen a light-colored recreational vehicle, similar to the one that blew up Friday, in the backyard of the Antioch duplex for the last several months.
Authorities say they are investigating the possibility that Warner blew himself up in the recreational vehicle, but also said they are tracking down numerous other tips and have reached no conclusions about how the explosion unfolded.
One theory being explored is that an AT&T communications building was targeted because the recreational vehicle was parked near it before the bomb went off. Communications were affected in several states as the result of the blast, although much of the service was restored by Sunday afternoon.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” show that the location of the bombing, next to the AT&T building, indicated it was meant to be an attack on communications service.
“It feels like there has to be some connection with the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing,” he said. “It’s got to have something to do with the infrastructure.”
Authorities described the explosion as an “intentional act” and a “deliberate bomb.”
The Friday morning blast damaged dozens of buildings and sent three people to the hospital with what police said were noncritical injuries.
Authorities say they have not found any evidence so far that points to other possible conspirators or threats of other explosions. Although on Sunday afternoon, law enforcement officers did shut down a road outside of Nashville while they investigated a suspicious white box truck.
Tony Rodriguez, the resident in the other half of the duplex authorities were investigating, told The Washington Post that he never spoke to his neighbor and didn’t know his name.
Rodriguez said on a few occasions, he saw the man adjusting an antenna above the house or power-washing the driveway behind their home. Rodriguez said the man posted several “No Trespassing” and warning signs around the property, particularly where he kept the recreational vehicle.
The city street where the explosion occurred remained sealed off and under curfew as investigators searched the wreckage.