Nashville Suspect’s Girlfriend Told Police He Was Making Bombs

U.S.|Nashville Suspect’s Girlfriend Told Police Last Year That He Was Making Bombs

Officers visited the home of Anthony Warner after his girlfriend said he was producing explosives in his R.V., according to a police report. They said then that there was no evidence of a crime.

Credit…Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

NASHVILLE — A girlfriend of the man who the authorities say set off a bomb in downtown Nashville on Christmas had called police officers to his home last year, claiming that he had been making bombs in the R.V. parked there, according to a police incident report.

A lawyer for the girlfriend, according to the document filed with the Metro Nashville Police Department, told police officers that her boyfriend, Anthony Warner, “frequently talks about the military and bomb making.” The call to the police was reported on Tuesday by The Tennessean and WTVF-TV, a Nashville station.

The girlfriend met with the officers at her home on Aug. 21, 2019, according to the report and a later statement from the police. Officers then went to Mr. Warner’s home, a two-bedroom duplex in the Antioch area of Nashville.

The officers knocked on the door but “did not receive an answer,” according to the report, which was obtained by The New York Times. The R.V., which has been identified by state and federal officials as the one that exploded in downtown Nashville, injuring three and disrupting telecommunications in the region, was parked behind a fence. Officers wrote that they observed “several security cameras and wires attached to an alarm sign on the front door.”

A spokesman for the Police Department, Don Aaron, said in a statement that the police “saw no evidence of a crime and had no authority to enter his home or fenced property.” The girlfriend’s lawyer also represented Mr. Warner, according to the police, and told officers later that he would “not allow his client to permit a visual inspection of the R.V.”

Efforts on Tuesday night to reach the lawyer were unsuccessful.

The report, dated Aug. 21, noted that the officers who responded to the call had notified their superiors within the Police Department. Mr. Aaron said that the police had forwarded the incident report and Mr. Warner’s information to the F.B.I., which said on Tuesday that it and the Defense Department found no records on Mr. Warner after receiving a request from the police on Aug. 22.

Bob Mendes, a member of the City Council, criticized the police on Tuesday night for not earlier revealing their visit to Mr. Warner’s home. He said that when officers kill someone, the department distributes photos of any weapons found near the victim within hours.

“Failing to mention this for five days is frustrating,” Mr. Mendes said.

In a news conference before Tuesday’s revelations, law enforcement officials said Mr. Warner had not had their attention before the attack. His record had just one arrest: a 1978 marijuana possession charge, when he was 21.

“He was not on our radar,” David B. Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, had said. “He was not someone that was identified as a person of interest for the bureau. So we were not familiar with this individual until this incident.”

Mr. Warner, 63, was an information technology specialist who had worked for several area businesses, and one of his former clients said Mr. Warner had sent an email this month saying that he was retiring. He signed away his home, and he gave his car to someone he told that he had cancer, according to law enforcement officials.

The authorities said that at roughly 1:22 a.m. on Christmas, Mr. Warner drove his R.V., which had been packed with explosives, onto Second Avenue North in downtown Nashville.

Police officers responding to a call of gunfire around dawn found the R.V. as a speaker blared a message warning that explosives were inside and that people needed to evacuate.

The blast ripped across several blocks of downtown, causing one building to collapse, damaging dozens of others and starting fires and flooding in an AT&T transmission facility that ultimately led to widespread outages in communications services — for 911 centers, hospitals, businesses and residents — across the region.

No one other than Mr. Warner was killed by the bombing, officials said. He emerged quickly as a person of interest after investigators located the vehicle identification number for the R.V., and on Saturday, federal agents searched the home that Nashville officers had once visited.

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Steve Cavendish and Rick Rojas