San Bernardino gun buyer mulled multiple lives

2015-12-18 20:37
In this courtroom sketch, Enrique Marquez appears in federal court in Riverside. (Bill Robles, AP)

In this courtroom sketch, Enrique Marquez appears in federal court in Riverside. (Bill Robles, AP)

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Riverside - Less than a month before his friend carried out the San Bernardino massacre, the man who bought the assault rifles used in the attack wondered when the multiple lives he was leading would come crashing down.

"Involved in terrorist plots, drugs, anti-social behaviour, marriage, might go to prison for fraud, etc," Enrique Marquez jnr told someone in a November 5 chat on Facebook described in a court document.

Now he stands accused of terrorism-related charges and other counts that connect him to the San Bernardino attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22.

Marquez, 24, was charged on Thursday with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists in deadly plots with Syed Rizwan Farook in 2011 and 2012 that they never carried out.

The duo, who had become adherents to radicalised Islam ideology as neighbours, wanted to maximize carnage by using pipe bombs and guns to kill innocent people at a campus cafeteria and those stuck in rush hour traffic, court documents said.

Those plans may never have come to light if not for the attack at a holiday meeting of Farook's health department co-workers. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, used guns Marquez bought years ago.

Marquez was charged with illegally purchasing the rifles that the shooters used in the slaughter and were found with hours later after dying in a gun battle with police.

In his initial court appearance, Marquez looked dishevelled. His short hair flopped over his forehead, there was stubble on his face, and the pockets of his black pants were turned out. He appeared calm as he gave one-word answers to the judge.

No plea was entered and he was ordered held until a bail hearing Monday in US District Court. If convicted of all three counts, he could face up to 35 years in federal prison.

His public defender declined comment.


Marquez, a former licensed security guard, was working at a bar at the time of the shooting and is not alleged to have had a role in the attack.

But prosecutors said he was linked to the killings by the guns and explosive materials he bought. The couple used that material in a remote-controlled pipe bomb that never detonated at the conference room where the shootings occurred.

An FBI affidavit outlines evidence against Marquez, including statements he gave investigators over 11 days.

The affidavit said Marquez called the 911 emergency dispatch service hours after the attack to say his neighbour had used his gun in the shooting, using an expletive to describe Farook.

Marquez then showed up agitated at a hospital emergency room, saying he had downed nine beers and was "involved" in the shooting. He was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward.

Marquez lived next door to Farook, 28, who introduced him to Islam 10 years ago. Marquez told authorities he converted to Islam around age 16 and four years later was spending most of his time at Farook's home, reading, listening to and watching "radical Islamic content" that included al-Qaeda instructions on how to make bombs.

Four years ago, Marquez said, he and Farook planned to toss pipe bombs into the college cafeteria and then shoot people as they fled.

They also planned to throw pipe bombs on a busy section of freeway that has no exits, bringing traffic to a halt and then picking off motorists. Marquez would shoot from a nearby hillside, targeting police, as Farook fired at drivers from the road.

As part of the plan, Marquez bought two assault rifles - in November 2011 and February 2012.

Marquez said he and Farook aborted their plans after authorities interrupted a another terror plot in the area in November 2012.

He said they didn't see much of each other after it unravelled, though he deepened his connection with the Farook family, marrying the Russian sister of the wife of Farook's brother last year.

Prosecutors said it was a sham marriage to help the woman obtain US residency.

According to the affidavit, Marquez was paid $200 per month for the union and said his own mother and brother didn't know about it.

When his mother visited him at the hospital two days later after the shootings, her son again referred to Syed Rizwan Farook by an expletive and said he did not know "he was going to do that" according to the FBI affidavit.

Marquez also said he no longer wanted Farook as a friend.

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