Days before setting off the bomb in downtown Nashville, Tennessee on Christmas Day, 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner gave away his car, telling the recipient that he had cancer.
A month before the bombing, he signed a document that transferred his longtime home in a Nashville suburb to a California woman for nothing in return.
But he did not leave behind a clear digital footprint or any other obvious clues to explain why he set off the explosion in his parked recreational vehicle or played a message warning people to flee before it damaged dozens of buildings and knocked out cellphone service in the area.
While investigators tried to piece together a possible motive for the attack, Rick Laude, a neighbour told The Associated Press (AP) on Monday that he saw Warner standing at his mailbox less than a week before Christmas and pulled over in his car to talk.
After asking how Warner’s elderly mother was doing, Laude said he casually asked him, “Is Santa going to bring you anything good for Christmas?”
Warner smiled and said, “Oh, yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me,” Laude recalled.
Laude said he didn’t think much of the remark and thought Warner only meant that “something good” was going to happen for him financially. He was speechless when he learned that authorities had identified Warner as the bomber.
“Nothing about this guy raised any red flags,” Laude said.
Investigators are analyzing Warner’s belongings collected during the investigation, including a computer and a portable storage drive, and continue to interview witnesses as they try to identify a potential motive, a law enforcement official said. A review of his financial transactions also uncovered purchases of potential bomb-making components, the official said.
Warner had worked as a computer consultant for Nashville real estate agent Steve Fridrich, who told the AP in a text message that Warner had said he was retiring earlier this month.
Officials said Warner had not been on their radar before Christmas. A law enforcement report released Monday showed that Warner’s only arrest was for a 1978 marijuana-related charge.
Officials have not provided insight into why Warner selected the particular location for the bombing, which damaged an AT&T building and wreaked havoc on cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states.