The Guardian

Nashville blast: investigators examine whether bomber had 5G paranoia

Blast caused damage to dozens of buildings and hurt three people as police reportedly search home of a person of interest Investigators are reportedly examining whether a suicide bomber with a fear of 5G technology could be behind a Christmas morning explosion in Nashville’s historic downtown that injured three people.The blast, which caused extensive damage to dozens of buildings in Tennessee’s biggest city, took place outside a facility owned by the telecommunications company AT&T and knocked out or impaired mobile phone services in several other cities.Federal agents spent the weekend looking into a 63-year-old man who owned an RV motorhome similar to the one that detectives believe was turned into a mobile bomb and driven to the scene.Meanwhile, a Nashville television news channel reported that a person of interest, named as Anthony Warner from a south eastern suburb of the city, worked as an information technology consultant for a real estate company.Steve Fridrich, a realtor who contacted the FBI after hearing the man’s name on a news bulletin, told WSMV TV that federal agents had asked him if Warner had a paranoia about 5G technology.According to WSMV, sources close to the law enforcement investigation have said that among the various tips and lines of inquiry was one that suggested Warner bought into a conspiracy theory that 5G technology was being used to spy on Americans.The FBI has not named a suspect, but searched Warner’s home in the Nashville suburb of Antioch after bomb squad technicians cleared the property. Earlier, a spokesperson said that human remains were retrieved from the site of the explosion, and that the agency was not actively looking for any more suspects.DNA results on the human tissue was expected shortly.Douglas Korneski, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis field office, said that hundreds of agents were sifting through at least 500 tips and leads, and that it was too soon to focus on any particular theory.“It’s just going to take us some time,” he said at a Saturday evening press conference. “We’re looking at every possible motive [and] our investigative team is turning over every stone.”Asked whether the AT&T building could have been a possible target, Korneski said, “We’re looking at every possible motive that could be involved.”On Sunday, the mayor of Nashville appeared to indicate that the 5G conspiracy theory could be relevant to the investigation. “To all of us locally, it feels like there has to be some connection with the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing,” John Cooper said on CBS’ Face the Nation.“That’s just local insight, because it’s got to have something to do with the infrastructure.”Cooper has been liaising closely with federal and local law enforcement agencies conducting the investigation, and also the Republican Tennessee governor Bill Lee, who has asked Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration.The president, meanwhile, was playing golf in Florida on Sunday and the White House had not responded to Lee’s request.The blast occurred early on Christmas morning as police officers, called to the scene by reports of gunshots, attempted to evacuate local residents. A sinister recording blaring from the RV featuring a woman’s voice, interspersed with snippets of music, warned an explosion was imminent.Two officers suffered non life-threatening injuries as the blast sent black smoke and flames billowing from the heart of downtown Nashville’s central tourist district.Civil and emergency communications networks in Nashville and several other cities, including Louisville, Knoxville, Birmingham and Atlanta, were affected.AT&T said Sunday it was rerouting service to other facilities as the company worked to restore its heavily damaged building. The company said in a statement that it was bringing in resources to help recover affected voice and data services and expects to have 24 additional trailers of disaster recovery equipment at the site by the end of the day. Ray Neville, president of technology at T-Mobile, another mobile phone network provider, said on Twitter: “We continue to see service interruptions. Restoration efforts continue around the clock & we will keep you updated on progress.”The outages briefly grounded flights at Nashville international airport, although service had returned mostly to normal by Saturday night. The federal aviation administration (FAA) issued flight restrictions around the airport until 30 December.Cooper signed a civil emergency declaration for areas of Nashville affected by the explosion, including a curfew.Associated Press contributed to this report

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