A Somber End to 2020: Nashville Christmas Day Bombing

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Que Lam Tran-Perez, Copy Editor

At 6:30 a.m. on December 25, 2020, an R.V. parked outside of an AT&T transmission building in downtown Nashville exploded, disrupting local telecommunications, putting three people in the hospital, and leaving the city heartbroken. 

The R.V. was driven to the curb of Second Avenue North at 1:22 a.m. on Christmas morning. Photographs show the vehicle moving through downtown with its headlights on. Responding to reports of gunfire, a Nashville police officer approached the vehicle several hours later, finding a speaker warning that a bomb was inside and about to detonate. They called for a bomb squad, but by then it was too late.

Police identified the bomber responsible as Anthony Quinn Warner, age 63, who also died in the explosion. They had been warned of his dangerous tendencies nearly a year and a half ago. Back in August of 2019, Warner’s former girlfriend called the Metro police, reporting that he may have been building a bomb in his R.V. However, upon investigation, police “saw no evidence of a crime and had no authority to enter his home or fenced property”, according to the New York Times.

Now over a month into the investigation of the Christmas morning bombing, the motives still remain unknown. It is unclear whether the AT&T transmission building was the intended target, or if this was solely a suicide bombing. Law enforcement said there were no indications of anyone else being involved in the bombing, but according to The Tennessean, the F.B.I and local police have continued to pursue over 500 leads since New Year’s Day. Locals, business owners, employees, and residents in the affected area are still grappling with the fallout.

The explosion left at least one building collapsed, and damaged 41 others on the street, blowing out glass and flinging debris up to several blocks away. It also resulted in fires, flooding, and power outages across parts of Tennessee, and even in selective Kentucky and Alabama regions. Because of the disrupted telecommunications, the Federal Aviation Administration had to temporarily delay flights, tabeling the surrounding skies as prohibited from flying without special authorization.

As recovery efforts continue, the Office of Emergency Management has estimated that about 1,200 employees, 400 residents, and at least 45 businesses were affected by the blast, according to The Tennessean. Fortunately, though, the three people who were initially hospitalized were not seriously injured. Though devastating, much more harm could have ensued if the explosion occurred on an ordinary, non-pandemic, non-holiday morning when sidewalks may have been filled with pedestrians. 

With the tight Senate race in Georgia, the surging coronavirus cases, and the rise of right-wing violence nearing Inauguration Day, the bombing has received little media attention. After all the chaos 2020 has created throughout the nation–and the world–the Christmas day bombing only brought a somber ending. Nashville was hit hard, experiencing severe blows to local businesses, tourism, and the country music industry, accompanied by a particularly catastrophic tornado season. Nonetheless, the city has shown its resilience through collective efforts to heal a grieving community.