Members of the far-right militia group, the Oath Keepers, used Facebook Messenger during the Capitol siege to hunt for lawmakers, FBI says

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Smoke fills the corridor outside the Senate Chamber as rioters are confronted by police on January 6, 2021.

Thomas Edward Caldwell, leader of the far-right militia group Oath Keepers, has been accused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of coordinating an effort to track down lawmakers during the siege of the US Capitol building.

Caldwell, 66, is cited with leading the effort to locate members of Congress, according to The Washington Post.

Two others, Donovan Ray Crowl and Jessica Marie Watkins, are also accused of having conspired with the Navy veteran, The Post reported.

Caldwell is said to have received Facebook messages updating him of the specific whereabouts of lawmakers while congressional offices were being ransacked, according to a sworn affidavit included in court filings obtained by the George Washington University Program on Extremism.

Read more: I went inside the US Capitol’s immense security bubble to cover the most surreal presidential inauguration of my lifetime. Here’s what I saw.

One message, the FBI said, read: “All members are in the tunnels under capitol. Seal them in, turn on the gas.”

While raiding the Capitol, Caldwell shared a post on Facebook. He simply wrote: “Inside.” After this, the intelligence agency said that he received a flurry of messages from unspecified senders.

“Tom take that b**** over,” read one message.

“Tom, all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3 floors down,” said another.

Some of the messages gave very specific directions about the locations of lawmakers. “Go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps,” court documents reveal of one message.

“Do like we had to do when I was in the core, start tearing out floors, go from top to bottom,” another is reported to have said.

The day after the insurrection, Caldwell sent a text to Crowl. It read: “Do you like the pictures of us storming the castle?”

Caldwell was arrested earlier this week on several charges, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and conspiracy to impede or injure an officer.

It was the first conspiracy charge filed against any of the rioters, according to the Daily Beast.

The investigation into the insurrection is underway but Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that “a very considerable amount” of lawmakers “still don’t feel safe.”

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‘Cowboys for Trump’ leader detained by FBI after pledging to bring guns to DC

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Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Santa Fe, N.M., as hundreds of advocates for gun rights rallied at the New Mexico Statehouse against a proposed red-flag gun law that has the support of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

  • Couy Griffin, the founder of “Cowboys for Trump,” was arrested Sunday in Washington, DC, after pledging to bring guns to the city on the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
  • Griffin, an ally of President Trump with a history of inflammatory and racist remarks, is an elected Republican county commissioner in New Mexico.
  • The FBI’s Washington Field Office told Insider that Griffin was detained by US Capitol Police due to an arrest warrant over his participation in the January 6 insurrection.
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The far-right leader of “Cowboys for Trump” has been arrested in Washington, DC, after last week pledging to bring guns to the nation’s capital on the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

In a statement, the FBI’s Washington Field Office told Insider that Couy Griffin, an elected Republican county commissioner in New Mexico, was detained Sunday afternoon by US Capitol Police, who then notified the bureau. Griffin “was the subject of an arrest warrant for his role in the January 6 Capitol riots,” the FBI said.

A criminal complaint, dated January 15, accuses Griffin of entering restricted grounds without lawful authority.

A police affidavit in support of the complaint cites videos posted to Griffin’s Facebook page – since deleted – where he boasts of attending the January 6 insurrection and pledges to return in order to plant a US flag on the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We could have a 2nd Amendment rally on those same steps that we had that rally [on January 6],” Griffin said in another video. “You know, and if we do, then it’s gonna be a sad day, because there’s gonna be blood running out of that building.”

As Insider reported last week, Griffin reaffirmed his intent to travel again to Washington, DC, for Biden’s inauguration, stating at a January 14 Otero County commissioners hearing that he would be bringing two guns in his car along with him. One, he said, would be placed under the front passenger seat – a violation of DC law, which prohibits keeping any firearm within reach of a vehicle’s occupant.

“I embrace my Second Amendment, I will keep my right to bear arms, my vehicle is an extension of my home in regard to the constitution law, and I have a right to have those firearms in my car,” he asserted. Those remarks are cited in the police affidavit used to request a warrant for his arrest.

Griffin has a history of making inflammatory and racist remarks. Last year, he declared that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” in a video that was shared on Twitter by President Donald Trump; he also declared that supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement should “go back to Africa.”

Democrats are calling for him to leave public office.

“I am demanding that Couy Griffin immediately resign from the Otero County Commission or my office will seek his removal,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said Sunday.

The local Republican Party, for its part, is distancing itself from Griffin.

“Mr. Griffin does not represent The Republican Party of New Mexico nor does he speak for the party,” Mike Curtis, a party spokesperson, told Insider. The state GOP “does not endorse or condone the statements made by [the] Cowboys for Trump founder,” he said, and “condemns violence and any threats of violence against any person or group.”

Griffin could not immediately be reached for comment.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

 

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A man who stormed the US Capitol said, ‘How are they going to arrest every single person?’ in a video before the FBI arrested him a few days later

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A supporter of President Donald Trump taking a photo in the US Capitol rotunda during the riot.

  • Andrew Williams, who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, asked, “How are they going to arrest every single person?” in a video recorded while he was there.
  • Williams was arrested on January 13.
  • “We are storming the Capitol! Yeah, baby!” Williams also said while storming the Capitol, according to an FBI affidavit.
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A man who stormed the US Capitol building during the January 6 insurrection expressed doubt that he would be arrested for participating in the insurrection – before being arrested days later, according to prosecutors.

“How are they going to arrest every single person?” Andrew Williams said in a video taken while he was entering the Capitol’s rotunda, according to a sworn FBI affidavit.

“We are storming the Capitol! Yeah baby!” Williams also said while storming the Capitol, according to the affidavit.

Williams was arrested on January 13 at his home in Maitland, Florida, according to court records reviewed by Insider, on charges of disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and unlawful entry of a restricted building. A judge set his bond at $25,000.

Williams, a firefighter employed by the Sanford, Florida, police department, was identified after a law enforcement officer saw he posted a photo of himself in the Capitol building online, according to the affidavit. The officer informed the FBI about Sanford’s activities, which were chronicled in photos and videos obtained by federal law enforcement officials.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that 200 people have been identified following their participation in the Capitol riots. Several of them are public servants, including police officers, teachers, and firefighters.

Videos obtained by the FBI show Williams commenting on the architecture of the Capitol as he invaded it.

“Taking it back baby,” he said. “We are inside the Capitol,” adding: “This looks nice. This is really nice.”

Many of the people who participated in the Capitol building riots posted about it on social media. Republican West Virginia lawmaker Derrick Evans, who later resigned, said “We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” in a social media livestream. 

Others, including Kevin Loftus and Aaron Mostofsky, bragged to acquaintances about being in the building in private messages later obtained by federal law enforcement officials.

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module

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A NASA scientist was charged with lying to the FBI about participating in a Chinese government recruitment program

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Aerial views of the Ames Research Center, NASA Research Park, and Moffett Airfield in California.

  • The US Department of Justice alleges a chief scientist at NASA was illegally a member of a Chinese government recruitment program.
  • Meyya Meyyappan, 66, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to lying to federal investigators about his ties to foreign universities and a Chinese government recruitment initiative.
  • Meyyappan was a member of the Thousand Talents Program, a Chinese government group that works to recruit international experts in scientific research and innovation.
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A chief scientist at NASA pleaded guilty on Wednesday to lying to the FBI and investigators about his ties to a Chinese government recruitment program and several Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese universities.

Meyya Meyyappan, 66, has been employed by NASA since 1996. In 2006, he rose to the rank of chief scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. According to the Department of Justice, Meyyappan failed to notify the US about his outside employment between 2009 and 2020 and later lied to federal investigators during questioning.

“Meyya Meyyappan held a trusted position at NASA with access to valuable intellectual property,” Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. “In violation of the terms of his employment and relevant laws and regulations, Meyyappan failed to disclose participation in a Chinese government recruitment program, and subsequently lied about it to NASA investigators, FBI agents, and our Office.  Now, having admitted his crime, Meyyappan awaits sentencing.”

In 2016, Meyyappan applied to the Thousand Talents Program, a Chinese government initiative to recruit people with access to foreign intelligence and intellectual property. According to court records, Meyyappan was accepted into the program and later traveled to China and recommended others into joining the program.

Additionally, Meyyappan was employed between 2009 and 2020 as a visiting professor at three separate universities in China, South Korea, and Japan. During this time, he traveled to the countries on numerous occasions where he gave lectures, received compensation, and wrote research papers.

According to prosecutors, NASA required approval for any outside employment activities, including travel and compensation. It was also mandatory by federal regulation to annually report any outside employment and compensation to the US Office of Government Ethics.

Meyyappan failed to disclose his involvement with the Thousand Talents Program or any ties to Chinese or South Korean universities in any of his required reports, according to the DOJ. When interviewed, prosecutors allege that Meyyappan lied to investigators and denied any involvement with the Thousand Talents Program and the Chinese university.

“Members of U.S. government agencies are strictly prohibited from maintaining undisclosed affiliations with foreign entities, especially those that are actively seeking our intellectual property and technological advances,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. “Meyyappan violated this sacred rule, and then lied to FBI agents about it. Actions like those carried about by Meyyappan can have security implications, and his charges should serve as a warning to others thinking about engaging in the same type of activity.”

According to a release from the DOJ, Meyyappan’s charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 or “twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.” His sentencing is scheduled for June 16.

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Fueled by the US Capitol siege, violent extremists with ‘political grievances’ will likely pose the ‘greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021,’ intelligence report says

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In this Jan. 6, 2021 photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington.

  • In a report released in the wake of the violent siege on the US Capitol, US intelligence agencies warned that violent extremists with “political grievances” are likely to pose the “greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021.”
  • The report said the Capitol siege is viewed as a success by some extremists and will likely inspire more violence, particularly against lawmakers, journalists, law enforcement, and racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
  • The report also directly linked unsubstantiated beliefs about election fraud to the likely increase in violence.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a report released in the wake of the violent siege on the US Capitol, US intelligence agencies warned that violent extremists with “political grievances” are likely to pose the “greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021.”

The Joint Intelligence Bulletin, which was obtained by Yahoo News, was produced by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center.

The report says the violent breach of the Capitol “very likely will serve as a significant driver of violence” for “domestic violent extremists.”

“In 2021, threats and plotting of illegal activity, including the destruction of property and violence targeting officials at all levels of the government, law enforcement, journalists, and infrastructure” are very likely to increase, the report says.

It also names “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists,” “militia violent extremists,” and extremists who follow QAnon conspiracy theories as likely threats.

Read more: ‘It was degrading’: Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists

The report is dated January 13, one week after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to contest the results of the election, causing lawmakers to evacuate and resulting in five deaths.

One of those deaths included Ashli Babbitt, a supporter of President Donald Trump who was shot and killed by law enforcement while participating in the riots.

The intelligence report said the death of one of the rioters, presumably a reference to Babbitt, could further motivate extremists who “consider the death of a perceived like-minded individual as an act of martyrdom.”

The Capitol siege has been widely condemned by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and has resulted in the second impeachment for Trump, after the House passed the articles Wednesday accusing the president of an “incitement of insurrection.”

The Senate will soon hold a trial to determine whether to convict and remove Trump, though that outcome is unlikely and would probably occur after Trump has already left office.

During the riots, the president did not condemn the violence at the Capitol and told those participating: “go home, we love you, you are very special.” He has since spoken out against the violence, saying those who broke the law “will pay.”

But the intelligence report says some extremists view the insurrection as a success, and are likely encouraged by it, saying it could also galvanize “more sporadic, lone actor” violence against common targets like “racial, ethnic, or religious minorities and institutions, law enforcement, and government buildings and officials.

It also says members of the press are likely to be targeted, citing the treatment of journalists during the breach by the rioters.

The report explicitly ties unsubstantiated beliefs about a fraudulent election to a likely increase in violence, particularly threats to elected officials. It also echoed earlier reports that calls for violence related to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden have increased since the Capitol riots.

The Capitol riots are likely to be part of a trend where extremists “exploit lawful protests, rallies, demonstrations, and other gatherings to carry our ideologically-motivated violence and criminal activity,” the report says.

The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center did not respond to Insider’s request for comment Wednesday evening.

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module

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The FBI and DOJ are investigating ‘significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy’ after the Capitol riot

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Pro-Trump protesters look on during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.

  • Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney in Washington, DC, said Tuesday that the FBI and Justice Department are looking into “significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy” after the Capitol riot.
  • The “scope and scale” of the Capitol riot probe is unprecedented in FBI and DOJ history, Sherwin said at a press conference.
  • He added that his office has opened more than 170 subject files so far and charged 70 cases, but prosectors expect that number to “grow into the hundreds.”
  • Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s field office in Washington, DC, said the bureau has opened 160 case files and “that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” adding that FBI agents have received more than 100,000 “pieces of digital media” to investigate.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

The FBI and Justice Department are investigating an unprecedented number of cases and criminal conduct after last week’s deadly riot at the US Capitol, officials said Tuesday.

Steve D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the bureau’s Washington, DC, field office, said at a news conference that the office has opened 160 case files and “that’s just the tip of the iceberg.” He added that agents have received over 100,000 “pieces of digital media” and are “scouring every one for investigative and digital leads.”

Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney in Washington, DC, said the “scope and scale” of the Capitol riot investigation is unprecedented in FBI and DOJ history.

“The Capitol grounds, outside and inside, are essentially a crime scene,” Sherwin said. He added that there were “thousands of potential witnesses” and “hundreds” of potential cases that could arise as a result.

The US attorney’s office in DC has opened more than 170 subject files, Sherwin said, which means “these individuals have been identified as potential persons that committed crimes on the Capitol grounds, outside and inside.” More than 70 cases have been charged so far, and that number may “grow into the hundreds,” Sherwin said.

He also said the range of criminal conduct resulting from the riot was “unmatched” by anything else the FBI and DOJ have investigated, and that potential crimes that could be charged include trespassing, theft of mail, theft of digital devices inside the Capitol, assault on local and federal officers, theft of national security or national defense information, felony murder, and more.

“The gamut of cases and criminal conduct we’re looking at is really mindblowing,” he added.

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FBI bulletin warns that Trump supporters are planning ‘armed protests’ at the US Capitol and all 50 state capitols leading up to Biden’s inauguration

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Pro-Trump protesters look on during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.

  • An FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News reporter Aaron Katersky warned that “armed protests” are expected to take place at the US Capitol and state capitols across the country leading up to Inauguration Day.
  • One group is reportedly calling for “storming” local, state, and federal courthouses and buildings if Trump is removed from office before January 20.
  • And the bureau also reportedly said it has “received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January.”
  • The development comes after President Trump incited a deadly riot at the US Capitol last week and was banned from Twitter because the company said his supporters were using his tweets to plan more violent demonstrations.
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A new FBI bulletin warns that “armed protests” are expected to take place at the US Capitol and state capitols across the country leading up to Inauguration Day.

The protests “are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” said the bulletin, which was first obtained by ABC News reporter Aaron Katersky.

Katersky tweeted that according to the bulletin, one group is calling for “storming” local, state, and federal courthouses and buildings if Trump is removed from office before Inauguration Day. And the bureau also said it has “received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January.”

The group has “warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur,” Katersky tweeted.

Monday’s reporting adds another layer to Twitter’s announcement last week that it banned President Donald Trump from the platform because supporters were using his tweets to plan more potentially violent demonstrations.

“Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021,” Twitter’s statement said.

After inciting a deadly riot at the US Capitol on January 6, Trump returned to Twitter following a temporary ban and praised the 75 million “great American Patriots” who voted for him and said they “will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

In a subsequent tweet, the president said he would not be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

Twitter said the second tweet “may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

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The FBI plastered DC bus stops with photos of people involved in the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol so the public can help identify them

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A billboard on a bus stop on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest advertises a message from the Federal Bureau of Investigation seeking information related to violence at the U.S. Capitol, on January 9, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation is using digital posters at bus stops in Washington, DC, as part of its investigations into the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on Wednesday.
  • Photos of the posters, shown on large monitors at DC bus stops, were shared to Twitter by several journalists.
  • The agency is seeking help in identifying pro-Trump rioters who stormed the building during the violent insurrection that left five people dead.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is using digital signs at bus stops in Washington, DC, to ask the public for help in identifying the people who participated in the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on Wednesday.

Reporters, including CNN’s Jim Acosta and Ryan J. Reilly of HuffPost, shared images of some of them on Twitter, as The Hill first noted Saturday.

The signs include photos of individuals seen at the Wednesday riot. They urge anyone with information about the insurrection or those pictured to contact the DC office of the FBI or the city’s Metropolitan Police Department.

One person was shot and killed by police during the riot earlier this week. Three other people suffered medical emergencies during the insurrection and died as a result. Brian Sicknick, a 42-year-old Capitol Police officer, was also killed after being struck on the head with a fire extinguisher, bringing Wednesday’s death toll to five.

Read more: Secret Service experts are speculating in group chats about how Trump might be hauled out of the White House if he won’t budge on Inauguration Day

Supporters of President Donald Trump breached the building after the president encouraged them to come to Washington on January 6 to protest Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote.

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A billboard on a bus stop on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest advertises a message from the Federal Bureau of Investigation seeking information related to violence at the U.S. Capitol, on January 9, 2021 in Washington, DC.

In the months following his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, Trump regularly made baseless and false claims about widespread election fraud to explain his loss to supporters. He and his allies were unable to substantiate the claims and lost dozens of lawsuits that attempted to overturn the election results.

But his supporters showed up to Washington anyway in a violent, last-ditch ploy to stop Congress from formally affirming Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

After Trump addressed his supporters near the White House on Wednesday, thousands of them marched to the Capitol building where many stormed in, overpowering Capitol Police. Those who broke in vandalized congressional offices, posed for pictures in the Senate chamber, stole from the offices, and otherwise desecrated the building.

Authorities have already arrested and charged some of the individuals present at the insurrection on Wednesday. In an earlier statement, the FBI said it was calling on the public to help it identify those involved.

“If you have witnessed unlawful violent actions, we urge you to submit any information, photos, or videos that could be relevant,” the FBI said in a statement on its website soliciting information.

It continued: “Our goal is to preserve the public’s constitutional right to protest by protecting everyone from violence and other criminal activity.”

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Investigators believe the Nashville blast was a suspected suicide bombing. Human remains found at the explosion site, reports say.

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: FBI and first responders work the scene after an explosion on December 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • An explosion in Nashville linked to a parked RV left three people injured and destroyed much of a downtown street on Christmas Day.
  • Investigators now believe that the explosion could have been the result of a suicide bombing, according to CNN.
  • Human remains were found near the site of the blast. The FBI is now trying to locate the mother of a suspected bomber to see if they belong to him.
  • The blast had already been referred to as “intentional” and “deliberate” by local officials.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Investigators looking into the Christmas Day blast on a Nashville street now believe that the huge explosion was the result of a suicide bombing, two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation told CNN.

It follows the news that investigators found human remains near the site of the powerful blast, according to CBS News.

Nashville’s police chief John Drake revealed on Friday evening that tissue had been discovered. 

The tissue was confirmed to be from a human following DNA tests on Saturday, according to a report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency seen by USA Today.

It is believed that whoever set off the bomb was likely killed in the explosion, law enforcement sources told CBS News.

FBI agents are now trying to locate the mother of a leading suspect, two law enforcement officers told Newsweek.

On Saturday, multiple news outlets reported that Nashville police were investigating a “person of interest.” He has since been identified as 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner.

FBI agents searched Warner’s home in Antioch, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon. He owned an RV that was a similar make and model to the one used in Friday’s explosion, according to CBS News.

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An image of Anthony Quinn Warner’s RV, outside his home in Antioch, Tennessee.

The RV had previously been pictured in Google Street View searches of Warner’s property, but it has not been seen on his driveway since at least the day of the explosion, reported Newsweek.

On Friday, authorities had already confirmed that the blast was likely ‘intentional’.

Nashville’s mayor John Cooper later said: “Initial evidence does show that it was a deliberate bomb being set off in our community.”

The blast injured three civilians and damaged 41 buildings.

The FBI is currently seeking information on the explosion. More than 500 tips have been received since the blast took place.

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