Early in the morning of Christmas Day (Dec. 25), an intentionally-set explosion rattled downtown Nashville, damaging more than 40 buildings and injuring three people, per CNN.
The bombing originated from the area of Second Avenue and Commerce Street. Prior to the blast, police responded to reports of a suspicious RV and a recorded voice coming from the RV indicated that a bomb would explode in 15 minutes and that anyone within earshot should evacuate.
Responding officers led the evacuation, which prevented the horrific incident from turning deadly to innocent bystanders. Still, the bombing was a devastating event that came at the end of a difficult year, and country stars responded with shock and sadness to the news of the bombing.
“Trying to find the words … but this is a tough one,” the singer writes. “Grateful to the first responders who spent Christmas morning on one of our toughest years ensuring that no lives were lost. We are bruised, but not broken.”
The singer also included a clip of his 2013 hit “Nashville Without You” in tribute to Music City, and ended his message on a hopeful note for the year to come.
“Praying for my city and hopeful that we will find the strength to rise once again with the dawning of a New Year,” he concludes.
In subsequent days, authorities have named 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner as the person responsible for the bombing in downtown Nashville. DNA examinations conducted on human remains found inside the RV indicate that Warner was inside the vehicle when it exploded, making him the sole casualty of the blast.
The New York Times reports that Warner, who lived in the Nashville suburb of Antioch, Tenn., was an IT specialist who appeared to live a fairly solitary life. In the weeks leading up to the bombing, evidence suggests he may have been tying up loose ends in his life: He emailed a client to announce his retirement, gave his car away to his ex-girlfriend and signed away his house.
No possible motive has been suggested yet, nor have investigators theorized as to whether there’s any significance to the location where Warner parked the RV. Authorities have surmised that mass human casualty was not the goal of the bombing, since an evacuation warning was given, and the explosion could have done far more damage if it taken place on a non-holiday night, when downtown Nashville is bustling with bar-hoppers, tourists and others taking in the Music City nightlife.