San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook wanted assault weapons, but feared he wouldn't pass a background investigation, so he enlisted 24-year-old friend Enrique Marquez to buy them for him.
The assault rifles Marquez allegedly purchased for Farook were the same weapons used to gun down 14 people at a public health department holiday party on Dec. 2, authorities said. Since Farook and wife Tashfeen Malik died in a shootout with police hours after their bloody rampage, Marquez will become the first person to face criminal charges in relation to the worst massacre in the U.S. since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the New York Times reported.
Marquez had been friends with Farook since childhood, and since the California man has been cooperating with investigators, most of the details publicly known about Farook and Malik have come from Marquez, the Times said.
Marquez, who converted to Islam, purchased the assault weapons for Farook in 2012. Federal prosecutors plan to charge Marquez as early as Dec. 17, unnamed law enforcement sources told the Times and NBC News, but it wasn't immediately clear what kind of charges the former WalMart security guard and odd jobs worker could face.
During questioning, Marquez admitted he had originally planned a terrorist attack with Farook in 2012, the Times reported, but the men decided to drop their plans after reading about members of another homegrown terrorist cell who had been arrested before they were able to carry out their plans. They also made pipe bombs together as a "hobby," the Times said.
Marquez has denied involvement in the Dec. 2 shooting, but a message he posted to Facebook shortly after the shooting made it clear he was not surprised by news of the attack.
“I’m. Very sorry guys. It was a pleasure," Marquez posted, according to the Times.
Patrons who frequented Morgan's Tavern, a Riverside dive bar where Marquez performed odd jobs like cleaning bathrooms and checking IDs, said Marquez would start talking about terrorist cells and impending attacks after having a few beers.
“He would say stuff like: ‘There’s so much going on. There’s so many sleeper cells, so many people just waiting. When it happens, it’s going to be big. Watch,’ ” bar patron Nick Rodriguez said, per the Times. “We took it as a joke. When you look at the kid and talk to him, no one would take him seriously about that.”