Enrique Marquez, friend and brother in law of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, has been arrested today and is expected to face weapons-related charges. Enrique Marquez once lived next door to American-born Farook, and his Pakistani-born wife, Tashfeen Malik. Farook and his wife massacred 14 people at a work function on December 2 in an attack that authorities are still in the process of unravelling. Enrique Marquez was detained on the day of the attack but was not charged with any crime. A press conference was scheduled for Thursday afternoon where an announcement was expected regarding the arrest, but it was subsequently cancelled. This would seem to be an indication that, like many other aspects of the San Bernardino case, the status and involvement of Enrique Marquez is still unclear to the authorities.
Marquez, a doorman at a pirate-themed bar, was a licensed security guard until he allowed his license to expire in 2014. It is alleged that the two AR-15 rifles used in the horrific San Bernardino shooting were bought legally by Marquez and supplied to the shooters, possibly some time in 2012. Enrique Marquez had converted to Islam prior to 2011, when he began to attend the same Corona mosque as Farook’s family. He reportedly stopped attending several years ago. Yousuf Bhaghani, the board president of the Corona mosque, told the Washington Post that Enrique Marquez had a reputation for being “goofy.”
It is this goofiness that seems to be confusing the authorities. In interviews conducted by the FBI, Marquez has reportedly spun a convoluted narrative surrounding a planned attack on a high school in 2012. Marquez claims that he pulled out of the attack after being “spooked” by the arrest of four neighbourhood men accused of planning to travel to Syria to participate in violent jihad. But the FBI has been careful to point out that this whole story could be false. According to officials, there is a concern that Enrique Marquez may simply be “grandstanding,” and there are serious doubts as to whether he can be considered a reliable witness to his time with Farook. Grandstanding is a constant concern when dealing with high-profile cases, with suspects who may not have more than a tenuous connection to events sometimes fabricating confessions in a bid for fame or attention.
As time passes, a picture is emerging that seems to suggest serious mental instability. Aside from the reported opinions of his fellow worshippers, there is the fact that Marquez checked himself into a mental health facility around the time of the shootings. When he failed to show up for work, his co-workers were immediately concerned that he was a suicide risk and notified local authorities, who found him in the facility. Marquez has waived his Miranda rights, according to CNN, and has made multiple confused and confusing statements to the authorities, according to officials. He has, for example, stated that he and Farook used to make pipe bombs as a kind of hobby, that he has no connection to the pipe bombs found on the day of the San Bernardino attack and that he had no prior knowledge of the December 2 shootings, despite being close with Farook and apparently planning terror attacks with him.
The kind of case against Enrique Marquez hinges on determining several murky points. It is almost certain that charges can be brought for an illegal transfer of firearms ownership, as California law requires such transfers to be documented and no record of the transfer exists. What is less clear, however, is whether or not terrorism charges can be brought against Marquez. It is clear that the FBI is struggling to unravel the narrative of the horrific attack, with initial reports that Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS on Facebook, later retracted, and authorities clearly confused by the combination of factors typical to both terror attacks and workplace shootings. Until authorities can corroborate Enrique Marquez’s testimony and confirm whether or not he gave up the rifles knowing that they would be used in a terror attack, it is impossible to say exactly what charges Marquez will face.
[Photo by FBI via Getty Images]