Reports: San Bernardino couple’s friend arrested
Buyer of rifles used in massacre to be charged, officials say.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former security guard who bought the assault rifles used by his friend in the San Bernardino massacre is expected to be charged as early as Thursday, according to two law enforcement officials.Federal authorities are preparing criminal charges against a man who investigators say supplied guns to the married couple who killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, this month, two government sources said on Thursday.San Francisco: Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who opened fire on a San Bernardino holiday party earlier this month, were buried Tuesday in a quiet, graveside funeral.
US prosecutors are considering filing firearms charges against Marquez, with state gun charges also possible, one of the government sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Marquez, 24, who had checked himself into a Los Angeles-area psychiatric facility shortly after the shootings, had several connections to Farook and Malik and quickly became a key figure in the investigation of the shootings. The funeral attendee and another person familiar with the situation, both of whom asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said it took a week to find a graveyard willing to accept the bodies.
A news conference outlining the case against Marquez, 24, was expected here on Thursday afternoon, but it was called off and it was not known when the charges will be formally announced, law enforcement officials said. During the investigation, a law enforcement source said Marquez, who had converted to Islam, and Farook apparently had plotted some sort of attack around 2012 but abandoned the idea.
They said the husband and wife were ultimately buried in a cemetery far from San Bernardino, after a closer facility refused to take the bodies because of fears the graves would be desecrated. In the more than two weeks since the attack, the federal inquiry has expanded to a growing list of people tied to the husband-and-wife attackers, but focus has remained on Marquez. Hong,File) The FBI is investigating the rampage as an act of terrorism and said the Muslim couple were radicalized before they met online and communicated privately about jihad and martyrdom before they married.
Officials say that Marquez and Farook, former neighbors, had discussed mounting a attack in 2012, a year before the FBI says Farook and his future wife began corresponding online about waging violent jihad. Farook, the US-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and Pakistani-born Malik were killed in a shootout with police a few hours after their assault on the party. They “were plotting an actual attack” that year, including buying weapons, but became apprehensive and shelved the plan because of arrests in the area, said Idaho Sen. President Barack Obama said he was briefed on the investigation Thursday and reiterated the federal government’s commitment to find answers to all the unknowns in the case.
But he said said they were scared off after a terrorism investigation in Riverside, Calif., that year ended with four local men arrested for plotting to kill Americans in Afghanistan. Their attack, which left 21 people wounded, has stirred concerns among Americans about national security and the reach of Islamic State, becoming an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign. The attack came a few weeks after gunmen and suicide bombers affiliated with Islamic State killed 130 people in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris. Records show that Marquez married Mariya Chernykh at a ceremony at the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco, though the mosque’s facility manager denied it occurred there. But most Muslims in the community refused to participate in the burial or perform the funeral prayer, called Salat Al-Janazah, according to the source who did not attend the funeral. “I don’t forgive him myself,” said the mosque-goer who did not attend the funeral.
Authorities say Marquez legally purchased two assault rifles in 2011 and 2012 that were eventually used in the massacre this month at the Inland Regional Center. Three days after the attack, federal agents raided his mother’s house in Riverside, a city near San Bernardino that is about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. If Marquez knew about a plot and aided it, experts say, he could face charges of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act or conspiracy to commit murder — with a maximum sentence of life behind bars. Marquez’s friends were shocked to learn he was linked to the attack by the weapons and described him as a friendly, easygoing guy who was not religious and rarely discussed his family or marriage. “I still can’t believe this is going on,” said Viviana Ramirez, who met Marquez through an online forum when they studied at Riverside Community College. “I just want people to know he’s not a bad person.” Marquez was a licensed security guard for several years, but his license expired at the end of 2014. It was a pleasure.” When he didn’t show up for work the next day as a doorman at a pirate-themed neighborhood bar, his co-workers began to worry that he may have become suicidal.
Agents have been investigating whether the men arrested in 2012 or any of their associates — or the FBI’s confidential informant in that case — had contact with Farook or Marquez. The two men were several years apart at La Sierra High School in Riverside, and neighbors say they would spend hours at a time dismantling and repairing cars on the driveway of Farook’s house. Marshals Service have been piecing together details on Farook, Malik, Marquez and any associates who may have known anything about the couple and their terrorist plot. Marquez’s family has declined multiple requests for interviews, but his mother, Armida Chacon, briefly talked to reporters last week, becoming distraught as she described her son as “a good person.” The home still showed damage from a post-midnight police raid on the weekend after the shooting, when investigators broke into the garage and seized property thought to be related to the case.
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