The white male domestic terrorist who blew up his RV on Nashville’s historic Second Avenue on Christmas morning — injuring three, crumbling buildings, and damaging more than 40 businesses — played Petula Clark’s 1964 hit “Downtown” over the camper’s speaker system before the blast. On Tuesday, the 88-year-old English singer issued a statement of “shock and disbelief” that her song was the prelude to such a crime.
“I love Nashville and its people. Why this violent act – leaving behind it such devastation?” Clark wrote. “A few hours later – I was told that the music in the background of that strange announcement – was me – singing ‘Downtown’! Of all the thousands of songs – why this one?”
Clark went on to cite lyrics from the wistful pop song, written by Tony Hatch: “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely / you can always go downtown.” “Perhaps you can read something else into these words,” she said, “depending on your state of mind.”
Authorities have spent the past few days trying to determine the mental state of the alleged bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner, who they say died in the blast. The 63-year-old lived in the Nashville suburb of Antioch, where he ran his own electronics and IT business out of his home. The RV used in Friday’s attack was seen parked on his property in the weeks prior.
According to a photo released by Nashville police, the RV was driven north up the one-way Second Avenue after 1 a.m. Friday and parked near a building that serves as a communication hub for AT&T. Just after 6 a.m., officers arrived on the scene for a report of shots fired, where they heard Warner’s vehicle playing Clark’s “Downtown” and a recorded warning that it was going to explode. At 6:29, the RV detonated.
The subsequent explosion damaged historic buildings along the block and interrupted Internet and cell service throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama. Much of the city’s 911 system was also crippled. AT&T is continuing to bring its systems back online with the help of portable cell towers. It’s not yet known if Warner specifically targeted the AT&T building, but investigators have reportedly been exploring if the suspect harbored conspiracy theories about 5G.
Conspiracy theories around the bombing itself have also been popping up online, even from some of Nashville’s notable figures. On Monday, Gary LeVox, the singer of the country-music trio Rascal Flatts, raised the theory that it was a missile attack that actually caused the damage. “It will b interesting to see what cover up happens with this crap!” he wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post.
Clark, meanwhile, expressed comfort for Nashville, a city that’s been fatigued by a deadly tornado in March and the ongoing Covid-19 surge in Tennessee. “I would like to wrap my arms around Nashville,” Clark wrote. “Give you all a hug.”