By Nick Peralta
Enrique Marquez Jr., the man who bought high-powered rifles used in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, plead guilty Feb. 16.
Marquez was the only person criminally charged in the December 2015 attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at a meeting of San Bernardino County employees. Husband-and-wife assailants, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a shootout by authorities later that day.
Marquez plead guilty to illegally purchasing the rifles used in the deadly San Bernardino terrorist siege for his friend Syed Rizwan Farook.
Marquez appeared in Federal Court on Feb. 16th in Riverside with his hands cuffed and chained to his waist. Although he was a high school dropout, he understood the allegations and consequences of the plea agreement with prosecutors that could sentence him up to 25 years in prison while sparing him a trial.
In addition to purchasing the weapons, Marquez plead guilty to conspiring with Farook to outline earlier mass killing plots targeting Riverside City College, where both were students at the time, through which they had planned on carrying out shooting and bombing attacks at the library or cafeteria and soon after a gridlocked 91 freeway. The prosecutor said the pair researched bomb-making and bought the proper materials to make explosives, but never carried out those attacks. Marquez sounded choked up after the prosecutor finished describing what he had done.
Prosecutors said Marquez acknowledged being a “straw buyer” when he purchased two AR-15 rifles from Farook which would be used just a few years later in the massacre at the Environmental Health Services division in San Bernardino. Prosecutors stated Marquez agreed to buy the weapons because of Farook’s Middle Eastern nationality which could’ve aroused suspicion.
Gregory Clayborn, the father of victim Sierra Clayborn, opposed the deal of a possible 25 year sentence in a profound and sentimental plea to the judge before the hearing began.
“This man supplied these murderers with these weapons and he’s going to get a slap on the wrist, your honor,” Clayborn said, “My daughter, she didn’t deserve this.”
Afterward, Clayborn told reporters he believes Marquez knew about the San Bernardino attack.
U.S. attorney, Eileen M. Decker, said she understood why the victims’ relatives may feel the sentence is insufficient due to the pain they have suffered, but explained that she is bound by the law and there was no evidence that Marquez participated in or had prior knowledge of the San Bernardino killings.
Decker does believe that the purchase of the weapons and preparations with Farook for the attacks they never committed at RCC and citizens on the 91 freeway laid the foundation for the 2015 assault.
“These chilling plans could have inflicted mass casualties. These plans thankfully were not executed,” she told reporters outside the courthouse. “But there are connections between their planning in 2011 and 2012 that we believe assisted in the horrible attacks that took place in 2015.”