Crime & Justice

San Bernardino shooting update: Enrique Marquez, friend of San Bernardino shooter, arrested on federal charges

Security is tight as a car carrying Enrique Marquez Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. Marquez, a longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male shooter in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, was charged today with conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to commit crimes of terrorism, and with the unlawful purchase of two assault rifles used in the deadly shooting two weeks ago.
Security is tight as a car carrying Enrique Marquez Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. Marquez, a longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male shooter in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, was charged today with conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to commit crimes of terrorism, and with the unlawful purchase of two assault rifles used in the deadly shooting two weeks ago.
Nick Ut/AP

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A Riverside man has been arrested and charged with federal crimes in connection with this month's mass shooting in San Bernardino. 

Enrique Marquez Jr., a friend and former neighbor of shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, has been charged with illegally purchasing two assault rifles used in the Dec. 2 attack as a "straw buyer." He's also charged with conspiring to attack a community college and freeway — attacks that never happened — and entering into a sham marriage for money.

The charges each carry a maximum sentence of a decade or more in federal prison. Marquez made an initial appearance in federal court in Riverside on Thursday but did not enter a plea.

Neither Marquez nor his family or attorney was immediately available for comment. 

Marquez has not been charged with participating in the attack on the Inland Regional Center, nor did he know about it in advance, according to a complaint filed Thursday in federal court.

Rather, federal officials say Marquez became heavily involved in Farook’s life beginning in 2004, when Marquez moved in next door to the future shooter. The quickly-escalating friendship, described in an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Joel Anderson, led first to Marquez’s conversion to Islam in 2007, then his radicalization and eventual attempts to plot an attack in the Inland Empire.

The two spent hours watching videos, reading radical materials and "discussing the extremist views of the now-deceased imam and Islamic lecturer Anwar al-Aulaqi," Anderson said in the affidavit, which is apparently based on hours of interviews with Marquez following the shooting.

In 2011, Anderson said, the two started plotting a set of attacks on Riverside Community College, which they both attended, and the 91 Freeway. Both attacks allegedly involved throwing pipe bombs and then shooting people who fled the scene or arrived to help. The two were spooked and changed their minds, the affidavit said, when federal law enforcement arrested several other accused terrorists in Southern California.

 

The assault rifles originally purchased for those early aborted plots, Anderson said, were instead used to kill 14 people inside the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2 and in a subsequent shootout with law enforcement.

"His prior purchase of the firearms and ongoing failure to warn authorities about Farook’s intent to commit mass murder had fatal consequences," said U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker in a statement.

In a strange twist, Marquez also became tied to the Farook family when he married the sister of Raheel Farook, Syed Rizwan’s brother. The sisters are from Russia. Federal authorities claim the marriage was a “sham” — and that Marquez was paid $200 a month for the marriage, which provided his wife with a visa to stay in the U.S.

Little else is known about Marquez. He checked himself into a mental hospital shortly after the San Bernardino shooting. A call to 9-1-1 in the moments after the shooting may reveal his state of mind.

Enrique Marquez as seen in his Facebook profile image.
Enrique Marquez as seen in his Facebook profile image.
Facebook

Neighbors describe Marquez as a loner.

Jared Rork said he often saw the two working on cars together late into the night but otherwise had few visitors.

"Doesn't look like he had a lot of friends," said Rork, who also works as a security guard. "I never saw a lot of people hanging out with him, just the Farook guy." 

Rosie Aguirre lived across the street and said she never suspected Marquez of illegal activity: He used to drive her grandson to school in a neighborhood carpool.  

The two rifles that link Marquez to the Dec. 2 attack were purchased legally, according the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, but the rifles were later illegally modified to shoot more rounds of ammunition more quickly. Farook also allegedly paid Marquez for the guns.

Police estimate the couple fired as many as 150 rounds from their rifles at a holiday party for the San Bernardino County health department employees and a subsequent shootout with police.

Investigators found another 4,500 rounds of ammunition at the couple's house in Redlands in addition to 12 "pipe bomb-type devices."​

Read the full complaint: 

Document: Complaint against Enrique Marquez

This story has been updated.