Federal authorities confirmed on Thursday the possibility of filing criminal charges against the neighbor of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook who bought two of the guns used in last week’s terror attack. Enrique Marquez, the neighbor who legally purchased the AR-15 rifles that Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik used to kill 14 people and wound 21 others at a social services building last week is expected to be indicted after providing substantial information to investigators about the terrorist couple and their acquaintances.
Law enforcement have not announced what charges specifically Marquez would face but remains the only person expected to be indicted anytime soon in connection with the attack. Marquez, 24, began speaking with federal authorities after they raided his mother’s home over the weekend. Right after the shootings, Marquez called his mother to say he was safe, but that he wouldn’t be coming home. The interrogation of Marquez was delayed by 72 hours after he checked himself into a mental health facility on Friday, two days after Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people at a county officials’ holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif. In addition to the weapons allegedly purchased by Marquez, Farook and Malik used two handguns that Farook had purchased around the same time Marquez bought his guns, police said. All four weapons were bought legally in California.
New revelations from officials and public records show a much deeper connection between Syed Rizwan Farook and Enrique Marquez than previously was disclosed. Marquez has not been charged with a crime. Investigators are trying to determine if Farook’s path toward extremism predated that time and whether it led to plans to launch an attack in 2012, according to two people familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Marquez and Farook “were plotting an actual attack” that year, including buying weapons, but became apprehensive and shelved the plan because of law enforcement activity and arrests in the area, said Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, a Republican who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Marquez, 24, spoke with federal authorities after they raided his mother’s Riverside house over the weekend. He and Farook were friends for years and became family last year with a sister-in-law in common. The two men were listed as witnesses on the marriage license when Farook’s brother, Raheel, wed a Russian woman in 2011.
Three years later, Raheel Farook and his wife, Tatiana, were witnesses to Marquez’s marriage to her sister, Mariya Chernykh, according to Riverside County records. The ceremony took place at the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco, according to the marriage license, though the mosque’s facility manager denied it occurred there. Azmi Hasan said Wednesday that he understood Marquez had converted to Islam but said he was not a member of that mosque. Marquez had only worshipped there three to four times over seven years, said Hasan, who had not seen him in about four years.
The FBI has not tied any Farook family members to the San Bernardino attack. Comey described Farook and Malik as examples of homegrown violent extremists who appear to have radicalized “in place,” drawing a distinction between the California attack and the one last month in Paris that officials suspect involved planning and training in Syria. He said the FBI did not yet know if Farook and Malik’s marriage was arranged by a foreign extremist organization.
An individual associated with a local mosque, who asked not to be named, told ABC News Monday that Marquez started coming there three or four years ago, after he had converted to Islam. The person said Marquez was shy and polite, but did not seem that bright. Two members of Farook’s family, but not Syed Farook, attended the same mosque, the person said. Farook’s mother has been added to a U.S. terrorist watch list, authorities told ABC News, just like his father was two days ago. A former senior counter-terrorism official previously said that family members of identified terrorists are often added to the Terrorist Identifier Datamart Environment (TIDE) as a precaution during the course of an investigation.