A criminal complaint filed against Enrique Marquez, the friend and former neighbor of one of the shooters who killed 14 people Dec. 2 at a health center holiday party in San Bernardino, details alleged earlier plans by the two to attack people using pipe bombs on a Southern California freeway and another plot targeting a community college.
The three-count criminal complaint filed Thursday by federal authorities documented an alleged history of 24-year-old Marquez conspiring to commit acts of terrorism with San Bernardino attacker Syed Rizwan Farook, dating back to 2011. Federal prosecutors charged Marquez Thursday in plotting with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to commit terrorist crimes and unlawfully buying two assault rifles used in the mass shooting carried out by Farook and wife Tashfeen Malik at the Inland Regional Center, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Farook and Malik were both killed in a shootout with law enforcement agents hours after the shooting, making Marquez a critical source of information for investigators as they piece together the attackers' histories.
The criminal complaint filed against Marquez indicates that in 2011 he and Farook were planning to use firearms and explosives to carry out terrorist acts, attacks that Marquez allegedly told investigators were created to generate mass casualties, according to the news release from the Department of Justice.
The criminal complaint mentions an interview with Marquez in which he allegedly admitted planning to attack the library or cafeteria at Riverside Community College, which they both attended. The plan was to throw pipe bombs into the cafeteria area from the second floor, and to shoot people as they fled, according to the DOJ news release.
Marquez and Farook also plotted an elaborate attack on the 91 Freeway during rush-hour traffic, the affidavit stated. Marquez allegedly told investigators they chose a specific section of the 91 Freeway because there were no exits and it would increase the number of targets, according to the news release.
The 91 Freeway plot would have involved Farook throwing pipe bombs onto the freeway to disable vehicles and stop traffic. Farook allegedly planned to move among stopped vehicles, shooting into them, while Marquez shot into vehicles from a position on a nearby hillside. Marquez allegedly said that he would watch for law enforcement and emergency vehicles, and his priority was to shoot law enforcement before shooting life-saving emergency personnel.
According to the affidavit, in late 2011 and 2012, Marquez allegedly bought two firearms and portrayed himself as the actual purchaser of the rifles, although he was buying the firearms for Farook as part of the planned attacks on RCC and the 91 Freeway, the news release said. According to the affidavit, Marquez told investigators that he agreed to purchase the weapons because "his appearance was Caucasian, while Farook looked Middle-Eastern."
The three-count criminal complaint also charged Marquez with defrauding immigration authorities for a "sham marriage" with a member of Farook's family.
The criminal complaint in addition charged Marquez with conspiring with Farook to provide material support – including himself, a firearm and explosives – for crimes of terrorism, making a false statement in connection with acquisition of firearms, and immigration fraud, according to the news release.
Farook, a co-worker of those killed in the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center, introduced Marquez to radical Islamic ideology, according to the criminal complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. The criminal complaint also stated that over the next few years, Farook provided Marquez with radical Islamic materials, and by 2011, Marquez spent most of his time at Farook's residence listening to lectures and watching videos involving extremist content.
Marquez's public defender declined to comment on the charges filed this week. Friends and family have described him as a good person who was easygoing.
U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said, "While there currently is no evidence that Mr. Marquez participated in the December 2 attack or had advance knowledge of it, his prior purchase of the firearms and ongoing failure to warn authorities about Farook’s intent to commit mass murder had fatal consequences."
On Friday, President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit families of the 14 victim in San Bernardino on his way to a holiday vacation in Hawaii.