Friend who supplied rifles to San Bernardino terrorists agrees to plead guilty

This Dec. 21, 2015 courtroom file sketch shows Enrique Marquez Jr. in federal court in Riverside, Calif.

This Dec. 21, 2015 courtroom file sketch shows Enrique Marquez Jr. in federal court in Riverside, Calif.

(Bill Robles / AP)
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Los Angeles Times

The man accused of buying two of the weapons used in the 2015 San Bernardino terror attacks has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and lying while purchasing a firearm, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Enrique Marquez Jr., a close personal friend of gunman Syed Rizwan Farook, was arrested shortly after the Dec. 2, 2015, attacks that left 14 dead and 22 wounded.

While he was not accused of taking part in the shooting, Marquez, 25, emerged as a central figure in the investigation after federal agents began to probe his ties to Farook.


The two onetime neighbors had been close friends and began attending a mosque together in 2010. Even as Marquez told friends he hoped to enlist in the U.S. Navy, prosecutors say, he and Farook were secretly amassing weapons, discussing radical Islam and plotting terrorist attacks in California.

Marquez is expected to formally plead guilty Thursday morning, officials said.

According to court records, Marquez and Farook had plotted to launch attacks on the 91 Freeway in Corona and at Riverside City College in 2011 and 2012, but both plots were aborted, records show.

The charges Marquez will plead guilty to involved conspiring to take part in those aborted attacks, not the shootings at the Inland Regional Center. According to the plea agreement, Marquez told investigators he knew nothing of the planned attack at the center and had “withdrawn” from Farook in late 2012.

Hours after the terror attack, Marquez called 911 to say that Farook had used weapons that Marquez had purchased. He also posted a cryptic apology on his personal Facebook page on the day of the attack, before going to an emergency room and then being sent to a mental health institution.

“I’m. Very sorry sguys (sic),” Marquez’s post read. “It was a pleasure.”

Marquez waived his right to an attorney and voluntarily spoke with federal agents in the weeks following the shootings.

In the wake of the attack, friends described Marquez as a shy cycling enthusiast who often seemed saddened by the circumstances of his marriage to Maria Chernykh, whose sister was married to Syed Raheel Farook, the shooter’s older brother.


Raheel Farook, Chernykh and her sister Tatiana Farook all pleaded guilty earlier this year to helping arrange a sham marriage between Chernykh and Marquez. The marriage plot was uncovered during the FBI’s sprawling investigation of the shootings.

U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker said in a statement that although the plans to launch attacks in 2011 and 2012 never took place, “they clearly laid the foundation” for the 2015 rampage.

Marquez’s court-appointed attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, the government agreed to dismiss the other charges against Marquez, although the judge can consider dismissed charges when deciding on a sentence.

Farook, who worked for the San Bernardino County health department, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a gun battle with police hours after the Dec. 2, 2015, attacks.