Investigators are exploring several conspiracy theories as potential motives behind the Christmas Day bombing of an AT&T building in Nashville, including evidence that the bomber believed in lizard people and a so-called reptilian conspiracy, two senior law enforcement officials told NBC News Wednesday.
Investigators are expected to conclude their crime scene work this week, but it could take several more weeks until they key in on the motive of Anthony Quinn Warner, who died in the bombing.
Authorities have been probing Warner’s digital devices – which one official says comprises a significant trove of pictures, videos, and writings – since Saturday looking for any clues on what drove the man to set off a powerful bomb inside his recreational vehicle that took down communications networks and injured several people in downtown Nashville.
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Specifically, investigators are looking into the suspect’s previous trips to an undisclosed location in Tennessee where he would camp out in his RV and according to the suspect’s statements to others, hunt possible aliens, the officials said.
In addition, investigators are aware of statements the suspect made about an internet conspiracy that powerful politicians and Hollywood figures are actually lizards or other reptiles who have extraterrestrial origins and are taking over society, the officials said.
Believers in the unfounded conspiracy theory believe that politicians, including the Clintons and now deceased comedian Bob Hope, were actually lizard-like creatures sent to earth and are responsible for a number of historic tragedies. Justin Bieber and the Obamas have also been named in the conspiracy theory.
Federal investigators have also asked associates and acquaintances of Warner whether or not he believed in equally unfounded conspiracy theories about AT&T and 5G mobile service and whether that was a motivation for choosing the AT&T building as the site of the bombing.
A senior law enforcement official said investigators have cast a wide net that reaches out to family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and businesses where he may have purchased bomb making supplies.
A few people were difficult to track down because of the Christmas holiday, the official said.
More than a year before the bombing, Warner’s girlfriend warned police he was building bombs in a recreational vehicle parked at his home, according to police reports.
On Aug. 21, 2019, a lawyer for Warner’s girlfriend told officers that Warner “frequently talks about the military and bomb making,” according to an incident report released by the Metro Nashville Police Department.
The attorney’s call prompted officers to visit Warner’s house, where they knocked on the front door to no avail, according to the report. Officers wrote that they spotted “several security cameras and wires attached to an alarm at the front door,” the report said.
Officers said they spotted an R.V. parked behind a fence in the backyard, but said they could not see inside the vehicle. Authorities identified an R.V. linked to Warner as the source of the Christmas Day explosion.
Police said on Wednesday the officers saw no evidence of a crime and had no authority to enter the property or the fenced-in backyard. They also determined the girlfriend was in need of “psychological evaluation” and she was taken to a hospital, according to police.
The day after officers visited Warner’s house, an incident report was forwarded to the FBI by the police, which said they requested the agency and the Department of Defense to run a records search on Warner. Police said a search from both databases found no results.
The Metro Nashville Police Department did not say it requested the FBI to open an investigation into Warner, but said its Hazardous Devices Unit followed up on the incident report with the attorney. According to police, the attorney told the department that Warner “did not care for the police” and that he would not allow a visual inspection of the R.V.
David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, told reporters this week that Warner was not on the agency’s radar before the bombing, except for one arrest for marijuana possession in 1978.
A spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told NBC News Wednesday they were previously unaware of the incident involving the Metro Nashville Police Department and Warner’s girlfriend.
The spokesperson said in a statement: “To be clear, the remarks our Director made about him ‘not being on our radar’ were specific to our agency and not all of law enforcement.”
Unlike other cases, such as with the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, the FBI said it was only asked to run a database search on Warner and were not asked to open an investigation.
The Metro Nashville Police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Warner, 63, who was described as a “loner” by people who knew him, had recently retired as an information technology consultant, NBC News reported Monday.
Officers were responding to reports of gunfire in the area on Christmas morning when instead they heard a warning of an explosion coming from an R.V. parked outside an AT&T building. Authorities said the blast, which authorities believe was set off by Warner, went off at 6:30 a.m. last Friday, rippling across several blocks in downtown Nashville.