The FBI tried this Saturday to solve the ‘puzzle’ of this Friday’s explosion in downtown Nashville (Tennessee, USA), with more than 500 leads to investigate, a possible suspect identified and the theory that it could be a suicide attack.
One day after a motorhome with a bomb exploded in the center of the so-called ‘city of music’, leaving three lightly injured and at least 41 buildings damaged, the authorities continued to search a large area where the debris generated by the explosion spread.
(In context: A car with a bomb shakes Nashville, USA).
“It’s a massive crime scene, it’s quite a challenge. It’s like a giant puzzle created by a bomb.”said the federal attorney for the central district of Tennessee, Don Cochran, during a press conference on Saturday.
A possible suspect
Several media claimed that the authorities had identified a possible suspect in the attack, Anthony Quinn Warner, a 63-year-old white man.
The FBI searched this Saturday with a court order an empty house in the Antioch neighborhood, in the southeast of the city, and other properties related to Warner, according to ABC News.
His goal was collect evidence and determine if the apparent human remains found in the area of the blast on Friday belonged to Warner, who owned a motorhome similar to the one that exploded, according to CBS News.
Authorities believe the explosion could have been a suicide act, according to official sources cited by CNN, CBS News and ABC News, but They stress that they have not yet reached any definitive conclusions in the investigation.
At the press conference this Saturday, the authorities only confirmed that they have received more than 500 tracks of different citizens since this Friday they asked for help to find those responsible for the event.
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“We are investigating a number of people”, said the special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in charge of the investigation, Doug Korneski.
One of the clues that the FBI and the rest of the federal, state and local agencies involved in the investigation follow is, according to CNN, the possibility that the attack was aimed at disrupting telecommunications in the area.
The motorhome exploded when it was parked in front of a building of the AT&T telecommunications company, which caused the disruption of landline and cell phone service for thousands of people across the state of Tennessee, and in parts of neighboring Kentucky and Alabama.
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“It may take a day or two to restore all communications.”Nashville Fire Chief William Swann calculated at the press conference on Saturday.
The event and its consequences
The explosion occurred around 06:30 local time (12:30 GMT) on Christmas Day, half an hour after Police responded to a call alerting to gunfire in the downtown Nashville area. Six police officers traveled to the area and did not see any sign of a shooting upon arrival, but they did notice that a suspicious vehicle was parked in front of the AT&T building.
The motorhome emitted a recording that warned that a bomb would explode “in the next 15 minutes”, so the agents rushed to go knocking door to door in all the buildings to evacuate the neighbors.
“Officers literally ran into danger … and we believe that is why fewer lives were lost in this heinous act,” Cochran said.
One of the neighbors in the area, Buck McCoy, woke up with his apartment destroyed and could not find his cat before having to leave, so this Saturday he planned to come back to look for him.
“I have some scratches, some bruises, some cuts on my feet, but I think I’ll be fine,” McCoy said in statements to CNN.
No sign of a second attack
Authorities have asked not to go anywhere near downtown Nashville, but they also want to avoid panic in the city, and stressed this Saturday that they have no indication that there may be more “explosion threats” in the city.
“Nashville is safe,” said local police chief John Drake at the news conference. Some experts warned that the investigation could take weeks or even months, as it is not only necessary to find a culprit and determine why he planned the explosion, but also how the event occurred and what type of explosive was used.
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Meanwhile, the Governor of Tennessee, Republican Bill Lee, sent a letter this Saturday to outgoing US President Donald Trump asking him to issue an emergency declaration on the occasion of the explosion. That declaration would unlock federal funding to rebuild downtown Nashville, and the “many historic buildings” affected by the event, according to Lee.
“The damage is shocking and it is a miracle that no resident died” from the area, Lee wrote on his Twitter account.