There’s been a curiously quiet reaction to the Christmas Day RV bombing that took place in downtown Nashville last week, injuring three people, damaging over 40 buildings in the area and leading to massive disruptions in AT&T cell phone communications and 911 phone lines.
The culprit in the explosion was identified as 63-year-old Anthony Warner by authorities in Tennessee on Sunday, with U.S. Attorney Don Cochran making a careful statement that the man “was present when the bomb went off and he perished in the bombing.” President Trump has yet to make any public comment on the incident.
It now appears that this kind of careful treatment of a man who terrorized a city block and put countless lives at risk stretches back to at least last year. The Tennessean has revealed that Warner’s girlfriend informed police in August 2019 that he was building bombs in his RV trailer.
The woman and her attorney, Raymond Throckmorton III, told Nashville police at the time that Warner often talked about the military and bomb making and was “capable of making a bomb.”
Throckmorton said he told police to investigate the woman’s claim and that he feared Warner would harm her. A police report obtained by the Tennessean shows that the cops forwarded the information to the FBI and then made what sounds like a perfunctory attempt to follow up the warnings.
They went to Warner’s home, where they observed that he had “several security cameras and wires attached to [an alarm] sign on the front door,” said the report.
He did not answer their requests to open the door, so the officers made no further moves to gain access to his RV. A Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson told the Tennessean that “they saw no evidence of a crime and had no authority to enter his home or fenced property.” A search for Warner’s name in the FBI database revealed no records, he added.
In the aftermath of Warner following through on his reported threats to make a bomb, the police approach to probing those early indications of what he was capable of doing feels distinctly hands-off. Not to mention that this news comes in the context of the many incidents of police across the country entering the homes of Black people on flimsy or inaccurate evidence, guns a-blazing, with markedly less indication of potential terrorist activity, much less consideration for the sanctity of their homes—or even their bodies.
Indeed, the very same Metro Nashville Police Department that chose not to pursue a search into Warner’s home used a battering ram to enter the home of a Black woman while she was undressed, as part of a botched raid earlier this year.
We’ve long known that being a white man confers more privilege in America, particularly when it comes to the freedom to promise and carry out violence while still being treated like anything but a suspect. This latest news is another confirmation of that unjust reality—and the risk posed to all of the general public from inequitable law enforcement.