Written by James H. Williams
Updated as of 7:00 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2015
Enrique Marquez, former neighbor of Syed Farook, the gunman from the San Bernardino mass shootings on Dec. 2, admitted he had made plans with Farook to attack the cafeteria or library at Riverside City College in 2012, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Marquez was taken into custody and could face up to 35 years in prison, according to the San Bernardino Sun.
Both Marquez and Farook were former students. According to the affidavit, the two men had identified the campus as a possible location in 2011-12 for an attack because of their familiarity with RCC.
Marquez was a registered student at RCC from 2009 to 2011, and from 2013 to 2015. Farook was a registered student from approximately 2004 to 2010.
“I am definitely shocked that it would be student,” said John Louka, a first semester music student at RCC. “It is crazy. My best friend knew one of the victims in the shooting and also someone who had classes with (Farook). I mean to know someone and have a bunch of classes with him and never know what they were planning is crazy.”
Riverside Community College District Chancellor Michael Burke sent a district-wide email which stated that the FBI had informed district leadership of the plot. Burke has also made it clear that the FBI has confirmed after an extensive investigation that no credible threat exists to any college or educational center within RCCD. He also confirmed that there has been increased security measures across the district.
“The safety of our faculty, staff and students is the top priority,” Burke said.
Virginia Blumenthal, president of the RCCD Board of Trustees, is in agreement with Burke.
“We have learned that terrorism can occur anywhere,” Blumenthal said. “The safety and security of our faculty, staff and students is paramount, but we cannot let terrorists deter us from our mission of educating our students. We cannot let terrorists make us afraid to live…now that does not mean that we are not cautious but we are optimistic and upbeat. We are looking at security and we will have an increased presence.”
Marquez said that he and Farook had discussed attacking the library or the cafeteria because they wanted to “maximize casualties,” according to the affidavit.
Here are details of the planned RCC attack as listed in the affidavit:
“Marquez said that he and Farook specifically discussed attacking the library or cafeteria area of the RCC. Marquez and Farook discussed attacking these areas because they wanted to maximize casualties. Specifically, Marquez and Farook planned to start the attack by throwing pipe bombs into the cafeteria area from an elevated position on the second floor. Marquez and Farook would determine where to throw a pipe bomb for maximum casualties. Marquez and Farook would position themselves to escape without detection and would then conduct a follow on attack at another location.”
The confession by Marquez is the latest RCC connection to the Dec. 2 shooting. The first connection was Bennetta Betbadal, the wife of district police and safety officer Arlen Verdehyou, who was one of the 14 killed in the mass San Bernardino shooting.
The pair also planned to attack the 91 freeway during rush hour.
RCC President Wolde-ab Isaac and Cheryl Ruzak, director of food services, declined comment.