Man Who Bought Guns Used In San Bernardino Shootings Could Face Charges
Enrique Marquez, who investigators say purchased the assault rifles used in the San Bernardino shootings, may face a variety of terrorism charges if it can be proved he knew about the planned attack or a possible earlier attack that was never carried out.Enrique Marquez, 24, legally bought the rifles used in the San Bernardino shootings in 2011 and 2012 from an authorized gun dealer, according to authorities. Marquez told investigators that he was asked to buy the guns by Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife, Tasheen Malik, murdered 14 people and wounded several others on December 2 in San Bernardino. He said Farook was afraid he might not pass a background check.
The real question is whether Marquez knew that Farook wanted to use the weapons in an attack. If so, Marquez could face charges of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, or conspiracy to commit murder. If convicted of either charge, Marquez could spend the rest of his life in prison, the L.A. Times reports.
Rory Little, a law professor at UC Hastings and a former federal prosecutor, said that Marquez is most likely facing some legal issues and that, "the idea that he is talking [to investigators] without a lawyer makes everyone gasp." Marquez checked himself into a mental health facility shortly after the shootings, and has been cooperative in the investigation, even waiving his Miranda Rights.
Little said that authorities are most likely trying to get information out of him right now, and building a case against him isn't a priority.
Ismail Ramsey, also a former federal prosector, pointed out to the Times that you can be charged with conspiracy, even if the act you were plotting was never carried out. So, if Marquez bought the guns with knowledge of a previous attack, he could still be charged even if that particular attack was never carried out and he was unaware of any future plans. A person can withdraw from a conspiracy, but to prove that they did so, they'd have to go to the authorities or otherwise prevent the conspiracy.
Authorities believe Farook may have been planning a different terrorist attack in 2011 or 2012, but dropped it after a law enforcement task force in Riverside foiled another plot in 2012, involving three Chino men who intended to drive to Mexico then fly to Afghanistan to join a radical Islamist group. Another man was arrested by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. A federal source indicated that Marquez may have admitted to knowing something about these plans. Little, however, said that for a conspiracy charge, Marquez would have needed to know the plan was real, not "hot air blown in the back of a barroom."
The most obvious charge for Marquez at this point would by "lying and buying," which means lying on paperwork when buying a gun, like if you're buying a gun for yourself on paper, but you actually mean to give it to someone else. This could land someone in jail for 10 years. If someone buys a gun and later wishes to give it to someone else, the transaction has to be done by a registered gun dealer. There is no record of Marquez ever transferring the guns to Farook or Malik. Giving a gun or selling a gun to someone on the side is a misdemeanor.
William Vizzard, a former ATF agent, told the Times that authorities would have to prove that Marquez intended to give the guns to Farook. "The challenge is proving the person's state of mind," Vizzard said. "If he confesses that he intended to hand the weapons over, that's one thing. But if he's at all smart, he'll deny any intent to pass on the weapons. It's a pretty impenetrable defense." Marquez, of course, has already decided to talk to authorities sans lawyer.
Marquez and Farook were childhood friends, and Marquez converted to Islam a few years ago, though was said to attend mosque infrequently. Marquez is also married to Mariya Chernyhk, a Russian woman whose sister Tatiana is married to Farook's brother, Syed Raheel Farook. Syed Raheel Farook was described by friends as not being particularly religious and served in the U.S. Navy, according to the Times.
Friends of Marquez's indicated to ABC News that the union was "more like an arranged marriage," and that Marquez seemed sad. Viviana Ramirez, a friend of Marquez, said that the night before the attacks, Marquez had messaged her about how relationships are often one-sided.