Girlfriend of Nashville bomber warned police he was building explosives in 2019

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More than a year before a man set off a bomb that exploded in Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas, his girlfriend warned police he was building bombs in a recreational vehicle parked at his home, according to police reports.

On Aug. 21, 2019, a lawyer for the girlfriend of the bombing suspect, Anthony Warner, told officers that Warner “frequently talks about the military and bomb making,” according to an incident report released by the Metro Nashville Police Department.

The attorney’s call prompted officers to visit Warner’s house, where they knocked on the front door to no avail, according to the report. Officers wrote that they spotted “several security cameras and wires attached to an alarm at the front door,” the report said.

Officers said they spotted an R.V. parked behind a fence in the backyard, but said they could not see inside the vehicle. Authorities identified an R.V. linked to Warner as the source of the Christmas Day explosion.

Police said on Wednesday the officers saw no evidence of a crime and had no authority to enter the property or the fenced-in backyard. They also determined the girlfriend was in need of “psychological evaluation” and she was taken to a hospital, according to police.

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The day after officers visited Warner’s house, an incident report was forwarded to the FBI by the police, which said they requested the agency and the Department of Defense to run a records search on Warner. Police said a search from both databases found no results.

The Metro Nashville Police Department did not say it requested the FBI to open an investigation into Warner, but said its Hazardous Devices Unit followed up on the incident report with the attorney. According to police, the attorney told the department that Warner “did not care for the police” and that he would not allow a visual inspection of the R.V.

David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, told reporters this week that Warner was not on the agency’s radar before the bombing, except for one arrest for marijuana possession in 1978.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told NBC News Wednesday they were previously unaware of the incident involving the Metro Nashville Police Department and Warner’s girlfriend.

The spokesperson said in a statement: “To be clear, the remarks our Director made about him ‘not being on our radar’ were specific to our agency and not all of law enforcement.”

Unlike other cases, such as with the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, the FBI said it was only asked to run a database search on Warner and were not asked to open an investigation.

The Metro Nashville Police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Warner, 63, who was described as a “loner” by people who knew him, had recently retired as an information technology consultant, NBC News reported Monday.

Officers were responding to reports of gunfire in the area on Christmas morning when instead they heard a warning of an explosion coming from an R.V. parked outside an AT&T building. Authorities said the blast, which authorities believe was set off by Warner, went off at 6:30 a.m. last Friday, rippling across several blocks in downtown Nashville.

The explosion injured at least three people and damaged more than 40 nearby businesses. Warner was the only person killed in the blast.

Wilson Wong

Wilson Wong is a breaking news reporter with NBC News. 

Tom Winter

Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

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