NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Anthony Warner, the man identified as the bomber behind the Christmas morning explosion, was not on investigators' radar before the bomb went off.
TBI Director David Rausch said tips from the public were key to identifying Warner as a person of interest. While he could not go into detail on what specifically stood out about Warner, he said forensic scientists used human tissue found at the scene and a pair of gloves and a hat from another vehicle Warner owned to make a DNA comparison.
Early on in the investigation, officials contacted the RV's manufacturer to find out where on the vehicle they could find identification numbers. Rausch said a piece of evidence was found that helped investigators identify the vehicle. He said the Tennessee Highway Patrol uses similar techniques frequently when investigating crash scenes.
Investigators are continuing to analyze evidence from the scene to determine what was used to cause such a large explosion. The ATF is looking into what materials were used, how he acquired them and why it did not tip off law enforcement.
The bomb sent a massive fireball into the sky, heavily damaging Second Avenue N. and more than 41 buildings and injuring three people.
Warner's motive for setting off a bomb on Christmas Day has yet to be established. TBI agents are working with the FBI, ATF and Metro police to interview people who knew him and his neighbors, including Warner's mother, who Rausch said is cooperating in the investigation.
Officials are looking into the possibility that AT&T was the target of the explosion. The RV was parked outside an AT&T data center and caused widespread interruption to the company's services for customers in seven states.
While it is known Warner's father worked at AT&T, Rausch said investigators are trying to determine if that played any role in his motive. Rausch added rumors Warner was motivated by a baseless conspiracy theory that 5G is contributing to the spread of COVID-19 is all just speculation.
As far as the box truck investigation in Lebanon, Rausch said while the TBI isn't involved, they don't believe it was connected to the bombing on Christmas Day.
"Obviously, that is being reviewed in light of the incident, however, I can tell you from the conversations last night and this morning there is no connection other than the individual taking advantage of the situation," Rausch said.
Investigators are trying to determine if the recording played from the box truck was similar or the same to the recorded warning played from the RV on Friday.