Enrique Marquez to plead guilty in helping plot San Bernardino shooting attack
Feb. 14, 2017
Updated 3:15 p.m.
Enrique Marquez Jr. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enrique Marquez Jr. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE By BRIAN ROKOS / STAFF WRITER
Enrique Marquez Jr. will admit in court this week that he illegally purchased the rifles used in the deadly San Bernardino terrorist siege for friend Syed Rizwan Farook and that he helped Farook form plans for attacks on the 91 Freeway and Riverside City College that were later scuttled, the U.S. Attorney s Office said Tuesday, Feb. 14. Marquez, a 25-year-old Riverside resident, has agreed to a deal that could imprison him for the statutory maximum sentence of 25 years to life in federal prison, a news release said. He faced up to 50 years in federal prison if convicted of all charges and if the maximum sentences were served consecutively. Marquez is scheduled to plead guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Riverside to providing material support and resources to terrorists and making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of firearms.
He originally pleaded not guilty to additional charges involving to a fake-marriage scheme that was designed to help a Russian citizen related to Farook remain in the U.S. after long overstaying her visa. Marquez s trial had been set for Sept. 26. Marquez has not been charged with directly participating in the Dec. 2, 2015, San Bernardino attack. That morning, Farook, 28, and wife Tashfeen Malik, 27, opened fire in a conference room at the Inland Regional Center, where Farook s San Bernardino County Division of Environmental Health Services co-workers were enjoying a holiday party.
The material support to terrorists involved the purchase of weapons and explosives for planned attacks in 2011 and 2012 that went unused until the San Bernardino attack. Over 2011 and 2012, Marquez purchased a Smith and Wesson M&P-15 Sport rifle and a DPMS model A-15 rifle for Farook, according to the Department of Justice s affidavit written in support of the criminal complaint against Marquez. Each rifle cost approximately $750. According to the affidavit, Marquez told investigators that he agreed to purchase the weapons because his appearance was Caucasian, while Farook looked Middle-Eastern. Farook was born in Illinois. Marquez is a U.S. citizen.
Marquez also purchased explosive material ultimately used to construct a pipe bomb found at the IRC. The day after the San Bernardino attack, Marquez called 911 and told the operator, “My neighbor. He did the San Bernardino shooting. … The (expletive) used my gun in the shooting,” according to a transcript of the call contained in the FBI affidavit. Marquez then checked himself into a mental health facility. The FBI eventually arrested Marquez and questioned him for 10 days, during which, the affidavit said, Marquez admitted his role in the Riverside plots.
Marquez met Farook when Marquez s family moved in next door in Riverside in 2005. Both attended La Sierra High, a few years apart. The two shared interests in cars and guns. Marquez had worked since 2012 as a doorman at Morgan’s Tavern in Riverside, getting around by bicycle, but his California security guard license expired in 2014.
Marquez worked as a guard at the Wal-Mart on McKinley Avenue in Corona for about two months, until about the time of the attack. Wal-Mart spokesman Brian Nick told the Associated Press that Marquez worked at the store since May but had been fired.
Riverside musician Crystal Carrera in 2015 said she knew Marquez from Morgan s, where she once worked security. On nights when she performed, Marquez would fill in for her at the door and took over the job when she left. Carrera was shocked to see his picture on TV.
“I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I keep trying to wrap my mind around it.”
Marquez was into punk music. When he started going to the bar, he hung out with whoever was there, but he started getting into the bands and becoming part of the Inland music scene, Carrera said. Tavern owner Jerry Morgan in 2015 called Marquez a cheery, efficient, “easygoing” doorman who was honest and never caused problems.
Marquez struck Morgan as the sort of kid who “didn’t belong anywhere,” and the owner said he tried to make him feel welcome. When Morgan and his wife learned of alleged involvement in a terrorist plot, he balked.
Enrique? Marquez recalls telling her. ” ‘That guy couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag.'”
Marquez was raised a Catholic, but Farook soon converted him to Islam, according to the affidavit. Several years later, Marquez began listening to lectures from a terrorist, Anwar al-Awlaki. In 2011, the affidavit said, Farook provided more radical Islamic material to Marquez. The pair began planning attacks on Riverside City College and on motorists on the 91 freeway, the affidavit said. And as part of those plans, the affidavit said Marquez told federal investigators, Marquez was now teaching Farook: In this case, how to build bombs and detonate them by using the filament from a Christmas light bulb to create a spark.
The plans were halted in 2012 when FBI agents coincidentally arrested a group of Inland men who planned to join Al-Qaida overseas and attack American service personnel there, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court.