An explosion in a motor home on Christmas Day was caused by a suicide bomb, authorities believe.
The home, parked on a downtown street of Tennessee’s largest city Nashville, exploded at dawn on Friday moments after police responding to reports of gunfire noticed it and heard an automated message emanating from the vehicle warning of a bomb.
The thunderous, fiery blast destroyed several vehicles, damaged more than 40 businesses and left a trail of shards from shattered windows.
Federal agents investigating the explosion were searching a two-story suburban house on Saturday for clues to the blast, which injured three people in the heart of America’s country music capital.
Federal agents were also trying to identify apparent human remains found near the exploded vehicle.
Sources have told CNN investigators now believe the blast was likely caused by a suicide bomb but the identify of the suspected bomber has not been revealed.
Officials on Saturday declined to name a person of interest in connection with the explosion, but CBS News reported the investigation has honed in on 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner, who recently lived at the address being searched.
According to a public document posted online, on November 25 he signed over the property to a woman in Los Angeles at no cost to her. The document was signed by Warner, but not by the woman.
Google Street View images of the house from 2019 show what appears to be a white motor home in the driveway.
Neighbors told local TV station WKRN the recreational vehicle had been parked there for years and is now gone.
“Once we have processed the scene, we will look at the evidence and anything that we have recovered from this residence and see how that fits into this investigation,” FBI spokesman Darrell Debusk said.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Doug Korneski said investigators were “vigorously working on” identifying what appeared to be human remains found in the wreckage.
He declined to say whether investigators believe the remains belong to the person behind what officials say was “an intentional act.”
Korneski said the FBI was helping determine the motivation of the person responsible.
The vehicle was parked outside an AT&T Inc office, and the blast caused widespread telephone, internet and TV service outages in central Tennessee and parts of several neighboring states, including Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia.
Adding to the cryptic nature of Friday’s incident was the eerie preamble described by police and witnesses – a crackle of gunfire followed by an apparently computer-generated female voice from the RV reciting a minute-by-minute countdown to an impending bombing.
Police scrambled to evacuate nearby homes and buildings and called for a bomb squad, which was en route to the scene when the RV blew up.
Police later posted a photo of the motor home, which they said had arrived in the area about five hours prior to the explosion.
Officials said 41 businesses were damaged and three people were hospitalized with relatively minor injuries.
City authorities hailed police officers who they said likely prevented more casualties by acting quickly to clear the area.
Dozens of agents from the FBI and the ATF were surveying the scene on Saturday. Parked cars and trees were blackened and an exploded water pipe that had been spraying overnight had covered trees in a layer of ice.
“All the windows came in from the living room into the bedroom. Buck McCoy, who lives on the block where the blast occurred, told WKRN. “The front door became unhinged.
“I had blood coming from my face and on my side and on my legs and a little bit on my feet.”
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee visited the scene on Saturday and said in a Twitter post it was a “miracle” that no one was killed.