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Rebuilding remains top priority for 2nd Avenue one month after bombing

Posted at 9:08 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 22:08:51-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — We’re now one month removed from one of the most devastating attacks in Nashville history, but the question on most minds is how do we rebuild?

The busted walls and shattered windows have left scars that some worry may take years to heal. Nashville business-owner and CEO of Icon Entertainment Group Bill Miller stopped by his investment property Monday, for the first time since the blast. He invited us to see the damage for ourselves, but later said he feels fortunate knowing it could have been much worse.

“There’s some broken glass, but beyond that, the interior is intact. We’re some of the fortunate ones. There are people on the block now who will face years of demolition, planning, approval, and then construction,” Miller said.

As many as 40 businesses were impacted by the blast on Christmas Day. Another 400 residents were displaced from their homes and 1,200 employees were left jobless. Last Friday, Mayor John Cooper announced the creation of a citizens advisory group to get feedback on how to restore and not replace 2nd Avenue. The mayor has also suggested that the Metro government will expedite the process of retrieving a building permit.

“I hope that everyone can come together, be reasonable, help expedite the process so that these people can get to making a living again,” Miller said.

Nashville native Bill Thompson said he’s already encouraged by the small signs of progress. People can now once again walk down 2nd Avenue before they reach Commerce St. His biggest concern is making sure that whatever changes are on the way, the street maintains its historic integrity.

“Especially after COVID and everything we’ve had. We need to just get back on the right track,” Thompson said.

The citizens advisory group is expected to host their first meeting this coming Friday morning at 10. If you’re interested in offering your ideas, you can contact Tom Turner of the Nashville Downtown Partnership at tturner@nashvilledowntown.com.

You can also help by donating to the Nashville Neighbor’s Fund. Your donations help to fund grants available to the very nonprofits working to help those displaced with rent, utilities, food, and clothing. Donations will also offer long-term help with mental health resources and legal advice.

THE EXPLOSION

A crater remains at the AT&T building where an RV was left by suspected bomber, Anthony Warner.

Since the blast, NewsChannel5 Investigates learned officers once tried to question Warner in 2019. His then-girlfriend told officers Warner was making bombs. Warner’s attorney was also there that day and claimed Warner was at least capable of making the bombs.

When officers arrived at Warner’s home, they couldn’t track him down. For the next few days, officers say they couldn’t find Warner or enough probable cause to warrant entering the home.

They passed the matter to the FBI, and Metro Nashville Police say they moved on. Last month the department agreed to complete an After Action Review of what took place back in 2019.

The After Action Review panel is made up of the following members:

  • Deputy Chief Dwayne Greene
  • Attorney/Professional Standards Division head Kathy Morante
  • Nashville attorney and former United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Ed Yarbrough
  • Community Oversight Board Executive Director Jill Fitcheard
  • Metro Council Member and Chair of the Public Safety Committee Jennifer Gamble

Metro Police tell us the group met privately last week as part of an “organizational meeting.” The ultimate goal of which is to interview the officers involved in the incident report from 2019 and make recommendations to their protocol, where this panel sees fit. More meetings are expected at later dates.