As police investigate the car bomb that rocked Nashville on Christmas, they have discovered that the suicide bomber was steeped in outlandish conspiracy theories. Anthony Warner’s acquaintances tell The New York Times he followed fantastical conspiracies well before a cancer diagnosis sent him spiraling toward disaster.

No, he wasn't diving into the theories of QAnon or pizzagate. Warner supposedly believed humanity had been infiltrated by shape-shifting extraterrestrial lizard people, going out on camping trips to Montgomery Bell Park with infrared equipment to detect them. 

He told Crystal Deck, a friend of his, that his obsession had begun with Sept. 11. Warner believed it to be an inside job, not a terrorist attack. 

“He kept saying, ‘9/11 is what did it for me’,” Deck said.

Warner worked as a freelance I.T. consultant, helping out businesses and local residents with tech issues. He set up his own alarm business, and those close to him describe him as capable with technology. 

“He was real proud of his computer skills,” Deck told The New York Times. “He loved how smart he was.”

Conspiracies, however, remained a fixation. Warner described his outings to hunt lizard people as thrilling adventures, stalking opponents that were bulletproof and could mask their thermal profile. 

“If you try to hunt one, you will find that you are the one being hunted,” he once wrote.

His electronic talents and penchant for fantasy took a darker turn after a cancer diagnosis. Warner sold or gave away many of his belongings, clearing out his house. He sent a message to his clients, alerting them he was retiring.

Those close to him became concerned about his mental state, eventually alerting police they suspected he might be making a bomb. The investigation was eventually dropped for a lack of evidence and consent for searches. It would only resume when Warner detonated the bomb in his R.V., killing only himself due to minutes of automated warnings the vehicle played beforehand. 

“He was trying to escape,” said Deck. “He talked about going out on his own terms.”

In this photo from the Twitter page of the Metro Nashville Police Department, a motorhome that later exploded in Nashville, Tennessee on December 25, 2020, is seen driving down a street In this photo from the Twitter page of the Metro Nashville Police Department, a motorhome that later exploded in Nashville, Tennessee on December 25, 2020, is seen driving down a street Photo: Metro Nashville Police Department / Handout