Despite reported suspicions last year that the suspect in the Nashville Christmas Day bombing was making explosives, officials on Wednesday said they found no evidence at the time to warrant a search of his home or recreational vehicle.
Nashville police were called to a home on Aug. 21, 2019, over reports of a woman threatening to kill herself, police Chief John Drake told reporters. When they arrived, they found two unloaded firearms.
The woman said her boyfriend, Anthony Quinn Warner, "was building bombs in the RV trailer at his residence," according to a report.
An attorney, Raymond Throckmorton III, who represented the woman, had called the police out of concern for his client.
This undated image posted on social media by the FBI shows Anthony Quinn Warner. Warner, the man accused of exploding a bomb in Nashville, Tenn., on Christmas Day, told a neighbor days earlier that "Nashville and the world is never going to forget me." (Courtesy of FBI via AP)
Throckmorton said Warner was capable of making a bomb, but he didn't believe Warner was building one or that he was violent. He also said Warner "did not care for the police," Drake said.
After visiting the girlfriend, officers went to Warner’s home and knocked on the door. No one answered.
The officers also did not have permission to go inside a parked recreational vehicle behind the residence.
"At no time was there evidence of reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed and officers had no legal basis to go into Warner's fenced in yard and home," Drake said. "We had no legal basis for search warrants or subpoenas based on what we knew at the time."
No other reports about Warner were made to police. Background checks — aside from a 1978 marijuana possession charge – came back clean and no further action was taken, Drake said.
The responding officers went by Warner's home for at least a week afterwards, but did not make contact with him, Drake said. The police sent a report to the department's hazardous devices unit and to the FBI.
The FBI said it found no suspicious activity on Warner's part. Drake said "hindsight is 20/20" and he wished officers had more to go on at the time.
Warner's RV shook the city's downtown area last week when it exploded in the early morning hours Friday. The vehicle was parked near an AT&T building and began blaring a warning that an explosion was imminent before the blast.
Statements from the girlfriend and Throckmorton about potential bomb-making did not give the officers probable cause to enter Warner's home or RV, Drake said.
"You have a girlfriend that said that and really you could say that about me," he said. "They could say that I have the ability … to do so but it doesn't give people the right to go inside [the home]."
Investigators still are working to determine a motive for the attack.