More than a year before Anthony Warner detonated a Christmas Day bomb in downtown Nashville, officers visited his home after his girlfriend told police he was building bombs in a recreational vehicle at his residence, according to documents. But they did not contact him or see inside his camper.
These revelations, which are part of a recently published incident report from 2019, put Nashville’s police chief on the defensive Wednesday, as he said that his officers did nothing wrong and that they had handled the situation properly. He added that in addition to an arrest related to marijuana in the 1970s, Warner was “cleansing.”
“I think the officers did everything they could legally. Maybe they could have followed up more, afterwards it is 20/20, “said Nashville’s police chief John Drake at a press conference.
Officials were called to Pamela Perry’s Nashville home on August 21, 2019, following a report from her lawyer that she threatened suicide while sitting on her porch with firearms, the police department said in a statement.
According to the incident report, when police arrived, police said she had two unloaded guns next to her on the porch. She told them that the weapons belonged to “Tony Warner” and that she did not want them anymore. Perry, then 62, was taken for a psychological evaluation after talking to psychologists.
“During that visit, before she went to the evaluation, Perry told police that her boyfriend made bombs in a camper,” the report said.
The report says that the police went to Warner’s home, about 2.4 kilometers away, but he did not answer the door when they knocked repeatedly. They saw the RV but it was in a fenced backyard and officers could not see inside the vehicle. They also saw several security cameras and wires attached to an alarm sign on a front door.
“They saw no evidence of a crime and had no authority to enter his home or fenced property,” the police statement said, adding that guards and detectives were detected.
“If we could have had more to go from, it would have been good,” Drake said.
Law enforcement officials did not publicly release the report, which was received only after news agencies submitted public registry requests. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation later announced that Warner’s only arrest was for a 1978 marijuana-related charge.
David Rausch, TBI’s director, had told reporters earlier this week that Warner was not on their radar. Rausch was flanked by federal and government officials – including Drake – who did not oppose or change the statement.
Drake later told reporters on Wednesday that he did not find out about the report until late Sunday night, but said he believed his officers did not smell explosives and that there was no probable cause for a search. He also added that he did not know why Rausch said Warner was not on anyone’s radar.
Wednesday’s development came as federal agents continued to investigate Warner’s digital footprints and writings, a law enforcement official said.
Investigators are examining whether Warner believed in several conspiracy theories after hearing from some of the people they interviewed that Warner believed that deforming reptiles took on a human form to take over society and that he was discussing taking trips to hunt aliens, the official said. Investigators have also asked witnesses if Warner may have believed in conspiracies about 5G technology.
The official could not discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The report also said that lawyer Raymond Throckmorton told officers that day that he represented Warner and told officers Warner “often talks about the military and bombing,” the police report said. Warner “knows what he is doing and can do a bomb,” Throckmorton told responding officers.
On Tuesday, Throckmorton told The Tennessean that Perry had concerns about her safety and believed that Warner could harm her.
After officers visited Warner’s home in August last year, the Dangerous Police Unit received a copy of the police report. During the week of August 26, 2019, they contacted Throckmorton. Police said officials recalled Throckmorton and said Warner “did not care about police” and that he would not allow Warner “to allow a visual inspection of the RV.”
Throckmorton denies telling police he could not search the vehicle and says he only represented Warner in a civil lawsuit several years earlier.
“Someone, somewhere, dropped the ball,” he said.
Drake said he believed in the officers’ account.
One day after officers visited Warner’s home, the police report and identifying information about Warner were sent to the FBI to check their databases and determine if Warner had previous military ties, police said. The FBI eventually reported that they had no such records after conducting a standard agency-to-agency check.
No other information about Warner came to the attention of the department or the FBI after August 2019, police said.
The bombing occurred on Christmas morning long before the city streets were full of activity. Police responded to a report of shots fired on Friday when they hit the camper and shook a recorded warning that a bomb would explode in 15 minutes. Inexplicably, the sound changed to a recording of Petula Clark’s 1964 hit “Downtown” just before the explosion. Dozens of buildings were damaged and several people were injured.
Investigators have not discovered a motive.