Second Avenue Nashville: before. Second Avenue Nashville: after.
We have 3 homes: one in Nashville, and the other two are in the Adirondacks where my family hails from since the late 1800’s. Earlier than that if you count a family history of Adirondack guides.
Currently we are in Nashville. The leaves near our Adirondack homes left a long time ago in their usual brilliant blaze of colors. The leaves here drop slower, casually, and the last left a few weeks ago. Then a good portion of something very Nashville left on the 25th. The day we celebrate the birth of Jesus something died; sad and unfortunately too fitting for the year 2020.
We woke up late Christmas Day and I made breakfast. I am the chef in the family. We had agreed long ago to just buy a mutual gift, sometime after Christmas. So, instead, I had set up a family Zoom meeting for Millie’s side of the family. But first breakfast. You think the breakfast was just for us? HA! Of course there was the presence of our ever present pet vultures: Payson the collie, Hodge Podge and Willow the sister cats, hovered around both of us. Hodge tends to hover around Millie. She knows if she tries to swat me: demanding food, I swat back.
Zoom time came faster than we thought it would. Mid call Zoom dropped out faster than a heavy boulder heaved over the local Shelby Street Bridge. Then the internet and all phone service disappeared.
At that point we had no idea what had happened in downtown Nashville. If you looked out our front door you might think this is one of our Adirondack homes. The nearest neighbor being about a 1/4 of a mile away.
Just before we lost service we had no idea that there had been a huge crater dug into Second Avenue downtown near the Spaghetti Factory. No idea they were about to enter the wreckage and shut down internet and phone for about a 100 miles radius. Two and a half days later we drove half way to Clarksville and still no service.
Very early Christmas morning, in true domestic terrorist style, someone had driven a class C motorhome, that had been parked in the yard in nearby Antioch for a long, long time, down Second Avenue. I will NOT use his name. If nothing else he wanted fame only, unlike so many who come to Nashville seeking fame, this was the choice he made? His desire to make himself famous was about the only thing he made clear in a single off handed remark to a neighbor.
The Class C was parked near the AT&T building: a major hub for communications in Nashville region. NOT just AT&T. Our Verizon was shut down too. A recording warned all nearby to get away from the vehicle. It played over and over after 3 shots were fired, or were part of the recording.
Having heard shots Nashville police officers came to the scene; not knowing what was going on at first, they parked right in front of the RV.
Officers Amanda Topping, Brenna Hosey, James Wells, Michael Sipos, Tyler Luellen and Sgt. Timothy Miller…
These are the heroes who rushed to the apartments above the stores in a highly commercial area, getting people to evacuate. They rushed people away from the scene as a pre-recorded count down started. The voice sounded distinctly feminine. Who is she? They didn’t have the time to ask such questions. The song played again.
”Where all the lights are bright…”
When the motorhome exploded officers Hosey and Wells grabbed each other to protect themselves from the blast.
Most of this you can find in the news stories, so let’s go on to observations.
There are several places I won’t go: even if politically convenient. A Facebook friend said the bomber was MAGA, claiming she found a picture of him with the hat. I haven’t seen that, but even if he was MAGA that isn’t enough to prove there’s any connection. There are plenty of supporters who would want nothing of this. Plus, why no manifesto? No note? Indeed, so far, he seems to have left a dearth of evidence as to why.
A girlfriend said she had warned authorities about him a year ago, that he liked to talk about building bombs, hated the police, talked about the military all the time. His lawyer, and the girlfriends lawyer, wouldn’t give permission to enter the property. Except for a minor arrest for a small portion of pot they found nothing on him. They did investigate, including the FBI, but could only go so far. Of course this brings up a lot of questions about how far authorities should be allowed to go.
Certainly a place to start intensifying an investigation. But their attorney, who said he couldn’t give permission to enter the property on the behalf of his clients also said she had been making suicide threats. I’m sure the police thought they were in the middle of a domestic dispute.
He was a contractor for IT services. Today I picked up a welded ramp at Duck Welding and Ron said his wife knew him. Apparently he had done IT work for Jim Reed: a car dealer. She simply couldn’t understand why he would have done this.
So far there are a lot of people expressing the same sentiment.
He had contracted out to several companies: including AT&T. Yet nothing so far indicates ill-will or a specific revenge motive aimed at AT&T. A suicide bomber, apparently with a black as hell sense of humor, the recording warned people to stay away had a song that played over and over again. As Petula Clark sang Downtown one more time… “Where all the lights are bright…”
Shortly after 6am the blast rose high above The Bat Building.
Known affectionately as “The Bat Building” because the spears look like the points on top of the suit Batman wears.
Nashville has to be one of the oddest targets. According to his girlfriend he talked a lot about the military, but the nearest military base is Clarksville, TN, and that’s a hair over 50 miles away. She also said he was no fan of the police, but why not park near the police station, or TBI? While it’s the capital of the state, Nashville is no big hub for CIA, FBI. TBI is our biggest presence, at least until this happened. Our protests had been peaceful for many years because we had learned our lesson in the 70’s/early 70’s. The most current violence was caused by three people who joined the protest late, pretty much mixed with no one, until one of them went to the historic courthouse and tried to burn it down. They weren’t BLM or Antifa.
Police have been known to shake hand, join hands, with protesters. Protesters: mostly civil. Nashville is no major hub for violence for either side.
To make the end of 2020 even weirder apparently he may have had a belief in some 5G conspiracy. And totally loopy, he was investigating a conspiracy theory about people who were lizards, or turning into lizard people. He even went to a local park searching for them. You know: I’m all for curiosity, speculation, but when conspiracy theories are given too much credence, even promoted by some in highest positions, we go too far. Maybe we inspire the mentally ill, those on the edge. You think there something to QAnon? That is your right. Drive to a pizza parlor, threaten patrons and the owners with weapons? Uh, no, and NO, and NO.
As far as that goes it probably has nothing to do with the bombing, except indications of severe, hidden, mental instability that they probably thought his girlfriend had. A LOT of people consider suicide, even talk about it, yet I’m sure that distracted investigators back then.
By the time you read this more information will be released. The investigation into the bombing is still in progress. Stay tuned.
I think there are wider questions we all need to consider. Why do we feel we can solve our problems with bombs or bullets? Whatever we extinguish comes back stronger, more determined. Those taken out are replaced by people also stronger, more determined. I am asking for banning nothing. I am concerned about how, increasingly, we think violence is the solution. Even in the Adirondacks, near one of our homes, there was a senseless murder last time I was there; neighbors arguing, making false claims of home invasion. I am concerned about how we are all too eager to make any excuse to excuse what we say, what we do. I am concerned about how we do that by painting others in one dimensional ways, as pure evil, as if without them, or that company, that group of people, we’d be better off. It rarely, it ever, works out that way. Again: comes back stronger, more determined. If he had any goal of that sort he did fail, he will fail; he has to fail.
Those who will accuse anyone of anything, believe any convenient conspiracy theory, make threats when they don’t get their way, are not that far apart from someone who might drive a bomb laden RV downtown.
For someone trying to make any specific political, social or anti tech point he sure left a lack of evidence, at least that has been discovered yet. A neighbor asked him if Santa was going to give him anything good this year was answered that Nashville and the world would never forget him. Let’s not help him with that, OK? May the bomber’s legacy be forgotten; at most a digitally dusty listing on Wikipedia.
Instead here’s to the heroes that should be honored. You will see their pictures below.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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