Many local residents have a soft spot for the unique music and accompanying history that have been generated for generations in Nashville, Tenn. It’s the home of the Grand Ole Opry and many entertainment icons — not all of them purely practitioners of the country genre. It’s also an exciting destination aside from the music — a cosmopolitan city that has seen much economic and cultural growth over the past few decades.
So as we learned about the destructive bomb that was detonated there on Christmas Day, our hearts went out to Music City U.S.A.
Around 1:22 a.m. on Christmas morning, Anthony Warner, 63, parked his RV on Second Avenue North, a downtown Nashville street in a block filled with restaurants, music venues, bars and clothing stores. Through loudspeakers, he played Petula Clark’s 1964 hit song “Downtown.”
Several hours later, a pre-recorded warning from the RV said “that a potential bomb would detonate in 15 minutes,” according to Nashville police.
A police officer happened to be on the scene, responding to a report of gunfire. He called for backup and he and his fellow officers began knocking on doors and evacuating the area.
Just before dawn, the RV exploded. The blast lit up the sky and flung debris for blocks. Videos posted online showed considerable property damage, including one building with its front wall completely shattered and a window in an apartment several blocks away damaged by shrapnel.
Three people were hospitalized with minor injuries. One officer on the scene was knocked down by the explosion and another suffered temporary hearing loss.
Afterward, local, state and federal investigators scoured the area. Tennessee Highway Patrol officers found a vehicle identification number for the RV among the rubble, which helped the police identify Warner, along with his remains, scattered throughout the wreckage.
So far, police say he acted alone. His motive is unknown.
We’re grateful that no one else was killed and we join others in praising the police who responded to the threat by approaching the danger rather than running away.
We’ll likely learn more about Warner, but right now we know little beyond the bare facts that he was an electrician and an information technology contractor.
Neighbors described him as “quiet” and “a nice guy.”
Some are debating how to define the incident: domestic terrorism? Suicide bombing?
As we write, there seems to be no intent to terrorize for any ideological purpose. But officials have called the act a suicide mission.
“These pieces of information will help us understand the suspect’s motives,” Douglas Korneski, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Memphis, said. “None of those answers will ever be enough for those who have been affected by this event.”
Whatever motive is found, whatever label it carries, we’re not beyond feeling shocked that such a thing could happen.
Just a decade ago, Nashville and surrounding areas were hit by a devastating flood, the likes of which the city had never seen before. Homes and businesses were destroyed and lives were lost.
Then, Nashville rebuilt.
Like our communities, Nashville and its industries have been affected harshly by COVID-19. Beloved country music pioneer Charley Pride died Dec. 12, a victim of COVID. We can’t help wishing that he and those around him had taken better precautions.
There will always be tragedies like this, and we will always try to make sense of them. Some will become clear over time; others will remain mysteries. Still, we go on with our lives.
The events in Nashville are a reminder of the commonality we have with people in other parts of the country — and, perhaps, with a sense of gratitude that we have been spared from such tragedies.