NASHVILLE, TN—The Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Metro Nashville Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have concluded a significant portion of the investigation into the explosion that occurred on December 25, 2020, at approximately 6:30 a.m. Central Time, in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
Following the explosion, the FBI worked closely with our law enforcement partners on a coordinated and comprehensive investigation. After recovering more than 3,000 pounds of evidence from the blast site, combing through more than 2,500 tips, and conducting more than 250 interviews, the investigative team has reached the following conclusions.
The investigation found that Anthony Quinn Warner of Antioch, Tennessee, acting alone, built and ultimately detonated the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. His actions were determined to not be related to terrorism.
The investigative team took diligent steps to determine the reason or reasons why Warner decided to construct and ultimately detonate his device in downtown Nashville on December 25, 2020. The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Virginia, further assisted the local investigative team in answering this question.
Based on analysis of the information and evidence gathered throughout the investigation, the FBI assesses 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 FBI assesses Warner specifically chose the location and timing of the bombing so that it would be impactful, while still minimizing the likelihood of causing undue injury. The FBI’s analysis did not reveal indications of a broader ideological motive to use violence to bring about social or political change, nor does it reveal indications of a specific personal grievance focused on individuals or entities in and around the location of the explosion.
It is important to note that only Warner knows the real reason why he detonated his explosive device. However, at this time, the FBI is confident, based on evidence collected, Warner’s own writings, and interviews with those who knew him best, that the above assessment is accurate.
Special Agent in Charge Douglas Korneski of the FBI Memphis Field Office stated, “The FBI would like to thank the citizens and private sector partners of Nashville, Tennessee, for their support during the response and investigation, especially those who provided tips and volunteered their time and resources. Additionally, the collaborative efforts of all local, state and federal agencies who responded to this incident, and the hundreds of hours dedicated by their men and women, were truly invaluable to this unified effort. They exemplified the tireless dedication we’ve come to expect from those who respond to these types of critical incidents.”
Resources by Agency
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
The FBI Memphis Field Office immediately responded with personnel in Nashville arriving on scene within the hour of the explosion. Assets from multiple field offices and headquarters components were quickly deployed, along with specialized evidence collection and communications equipment. In total, 277 Special Agents, Task Force Officers, Analysts, and Professional Staff responded. This included specialty units such as the Evidence Response Team, SWAT, Bomb Technicians, Crisis Negotiation, Behavioral Analysis, and Victim Assistance.
130 personnel responded from the FBI Memphis Field Office, augmented by 147 personnel from the following FBI field offices and headquarters components:
- FBI Field Offices:
- Little Rock
- New Orleans
- Salt Lake City
- San Francisco
- St. Louis
- FBI Headquarters:
- Counterterrorism Division
- Critical Incident Response Group
- Laboratory Division
- Office of the General Counsel
- Office of Public Affairs
- Operational Technology Division
- Victim Services Division
- Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee (USAO)
The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) provided significant support and deployed Assistant U.S. Attorneys, intelligence and research personnel and legal support staff to the Command Center. USAO staff worked to provide legal guidance and issued legal process such as subpoenas and search warrants necessary to allow investigators to recover evidence and conduct a comprehensive investigation. USAO Public Affairs also worked with partner agencies to coordinate and manage the flow of information to the media and the community as details from the investigation emerged.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
The National Response Team (NRT) which was comprised of 40 members including Certified Fire Investigators and Certified Explosives Specialists focused on the processing of explosives at the scene. The NRT was supported by subject matter experts from the National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR) and the U.S. Bomb Data Center both located in Huntsville, Alabama. Due to the extent of the scene the ATF mobile command vehicle was on site to provide additional support both from the communications as well as analytical perspectives. Additional ATF resources included explosives canines, representatives to ESF-13 and ESF-15 as well as the behavioral analysis unit. ATF public and governmental affairs consistently worked with the partnering agencies focusing on the media and congressional inquiries. Finally, the ATF Nashville Field Division had over 60 personnel both onsite and offsite working this incident.
- National Response Team mobile truck
- Explosives Canine Teams: 2
- Mobile Command Vehicle with personnel
- Support and Subject Matter Experts (SME) from the National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR)
- Analytical and intelligence support from the United States Bomb Data Center
- ATF representative to the Behavior Analysis Unit (BAU)
- Analytical and intelligence support from the Nashville Intelligence unit
- Public and governmental affairs resources both onsite and from ATF HQ level
- ATF representative from ESF-13 Law Enforcement
- ATF representative from ESF-15 Communications
- Nashville Field Division: Approximately 60 personnel both onsite and offsite
Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD)
Six MNPD personnel from the Central Precinct, a sergeant and five officers, were on the scene when the RV exploded at 6:30 a.m. on December 25, 2020. The response from the MNPD grew exponentially in the minutes and hours following the blast. Hazardous Devices Unit (HDU) officers, who were en route to 2nd Avenue prior to the explosion, started to lockdown the inner perimeter surrounding the actual blast site. All 10 HDU officers responded to the scene and began coordinating initial sweeps of the downtown area looking for any secondary devices with assistance from explosive detection canine teams from the MNPD & Tennessee Highway Patrol. Additional police personnel were requested to expand the perimeter to the interstate with assistance from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Tennessee Task Force 2 Urban Search & Rescue personnel from the Metropolitan Police & Fire Departments responded to assist any persons trapped by the explosion (thankfully, no one was found). Specialized Investigations Division personnel began work at intelligence gathering to determine if the bombing was part of a larger criminal act.
- The response command structure was divided into 6 elements on Christmas morning, with resources assigned to each:
- Overall Command (based at Nissan Stadium)
- Unified Command (based at the Emergency Operations Center)
- Staging & Logistics Branch
- Traffic Branch
- Special Operations Division/Urban Search & Rescue Branch
- Security Branch
- Thirty-two (32) traffic posts were established to secure the area. As days passed, the number of traffic posts declined as the perimeter shrank and businesses were allowed to reopen.
- More than 500 MNPD personnel were part of the response to this incident between December 25 and December 29, 2020.
Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP)
Commissioner Jeff Long and Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Matt Perry immediately called the department into action once notified of the bombing and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security sent a rotation of troopers and agents to assist with the investigation and security of Nashville after the bombing.
- Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) troopers staffed perimeters, intersections, flew aviation details and cleared downtown buildings with EOD K-9s.
- The THP’s Criminal Investigation Division worked with local, state and federal agencies to help identify a 17-digit number from parts and pieces of the bombed vehicle. That 17-digit number was used to build and identify a vehicle identification number (VIN) with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
- The Tennessee Office of Homeland Security had agents that responded to the command post and coordinated with multiple local, state and federal partners along with the Tennessee Fusion Center during the investigation.
- 43 Troopers worked 658.5 hours on the Nashville Explosion.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI)
In support of the FBI-led effort, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation provided key technical support and expertise in the aftermath of the Nashville bombing. In total, TBI personnel provided 680 hours of work to this investigation, across several divisions:
- 12 TBI Special Agent/Forensic Scientists, assigned to a variety of disciplines, provided a combined 64 hours of work to support efforts to identify and document evidence in the case, including identification of the suspect’s vehicle, specialized photography, fiber analysis, and the DNA process and review that resulted in the confirmation of the suspect’s identity.
- 13 TBI Special Agents, assigned to the TBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, provided investigative support in the aftermath of the bombing, conducted interviews, vetted leads, and gathered and reviewed preliminary video footage of the incident.
- Intelligence Analysts and Special Agents from TBI’s Criminal Intelligence Unit and its Technical Services Unit, assigned to either the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and Joint CyberCrime Task Force, provided direct support to the investigation, vetted cyber leads and secured and reviewed digital evidence, including relevant cell phone records.
- In the immediate aftermath, Agents assigned to TBI’s Aviation Unit deployed to use the Bureau’s aircraft and drones to assist in documenting the bombing site, blast radius, and search for potential victims.