A Riverside man who used to fix cars together with former next-door neighbor and suspected mass murderer Syed Farook is believed to have purchased the assault rifles used in the shootings that killed 14 people and wounded 21 at a holiday party in San Bernardino.
Federal authorities on Saturday, Dec. 5, raided the Riverside home of Enrique Marquez.
Marquez has lived at the Tomlinson Avene house for at least 10 years, a neighbor said. Farook lived next door to Marquez for several years, said that neighbor, Freddy Escamilla, 21.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Saturday that the FBI told him that the house was raided for the purpose of gathering evidence in the purchase of the rifles. Authorities previously said that Farook purchased the two handguns used. All the weapons were legally purchased, authorities said.
It was unclear Saturday night whether Marquez was in custody or whether any evidence was seized. Burguan said he didn’t know whether Marquez had been arrested. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told ABC News on Saturday that federal officials knew the location of the suspected buyer but that he did not know if the man would be taken into custody.
Escamilla said he never saw Marquez with guns and that Marquez did little to attract attention to himself other than hold an occasional loud party.
Authorities believe that Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, gunned down 35 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. The couple were killed a few hours later in a gun battle with police.
Escamilla sad that five years ago, he heard screams coming from Farook’s home. Escamilla looked over and said he saw tools and oil stains and a man — not Farook — rolling on the ground in flames. Escamilla called 911, but someone put out the fire and took the man to a hospital before paramedics could arrive.
That was the most unusual incident Escamilla could recall involving Farook or his family.
“There was never anything that would make me see the family as off or that they would hurt someone.”
Escamilla said the four people who lived at Marquez’s house were “outdoorsy.” He didn’t talk with them much but said Marquez had seemed “withdrawn” in the past three weeks.
Saturday’s raid left a garage door ripped open and a window broken. It was unclear whether anyone was at home in the afternoon. A handwritten sign propped up on the mailbox asked visitors to keep off the property. “Thank you,” it added.
Two older cars sat in the driveway.
Meanwhile, other neighbors milled about, trying to understand the commotion as some of the remaining media hordes shifted from San Bernardino to Riverside.
Escamilla said he never spoke to Farook for more than 15 minutes at a time. “Just small talk,” Escamilla said. He thought Farook moved out about three years ago. Farook lived with his mother there.
Farook spoke more often with Marquez because they shared an interest in fixing cars, Escamilla said. They would spend time in each other’s garage.
The day before the raid, Escamilla said, his sister noticed a grey car parked on the street with someone inside staring at the Marquez home. Later, the car circled the street.
The noise of the raid woke up Escamilla and his family. He heard an officer order someone to step outside the house. When no one did, the demands took on a tone of annoyance, Escamilla said.
He watched from an upstairs window and could see a large unmarked black truck and three unmarked white cars. Later, he heard metal banging, doors being kicked in and windows breaking. It went on for 20 minutes.
“Which feels like forever when you are actually there,” Escamilla said.
Shooter’s sisters speak
The two sisters of suspected terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook sat in the kitchen of a modest beige stucco home in Riverside on Friday night, Dec. 4, reeling over an event that has devastated this community, and, by the sisters’ account, their family.
Two of their children watched cartoons in the next room, as a lawyer sat by their side.
For nearly an hour, Saira Khan and Eba Farook, the two sisters of Farook, the man suspected of the mass shooting in nearby San Bernardino, expressed anguish at the tragedy that has engulfed this community. But they said they had seen no warning that Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were preparing for an assault that would leave 14 people dead and 21 injured.
“It’s the very opposite of what we were taught,” Eba Farook said.
Authorities say the couple assembled an arsenal of weapons and bombs in the house that they shared with Syed Farook’s mother, where they found 12 completed pipe bombs and a stockpile of thousands of rounds of ammunition. The presence of these weapons, they say, could indicate that the couple were planning more attacks. The mother was interviewed for nine hours by authorities about the attack.
But the sisters said they were baffled by what had happened. Their brother had seemed happy with his wife and 6-month-old baby, they said.
Asked if she felt shame, Eba Farook said: “I am not ashamed to be Muslim. I am not ashamed to be American either, and I am not ashamed to be Pakistani either. I think shame is for people who feel guilty about something.”
The sisters said they had stopped watching the news.
“It’s harder for us to understand, especially knowing that he was our brother and he was so happy with her,” said Khan, referring to Malik. “How can he leave his only child, you know? And how could the mother do this?”
The lawyer, from the Council of Islamic Relations, helped arrange the interview but is not representing the family.
The FBI on Friday, Dec. 4, said investigators are probing the attack by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, that killed 14 people and wounded 21 others at a holiday work party in San Bernardino four days ago as an act of terrorism.
As more details emerge over who these gunmen were, it is becoming clear to terror experts and law enforcement that the Pakistan-born Malik was likely the influence behind the attacks.
FBI confirmed that Malik had pledged loyalty to ISIS in a Facebook post.
David Bowdich, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, also said the couple did not appear to be part of any cell, network or group.
The attack was believed to be ISIS inspired, not ISIS generated, said Cal State San Bernardino professor Brian Levin, director of the campus’ Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism for 15 years and a recognized expert on terrorist activities.
Farook, who was an inspector for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, appears to have met Malik through an online dating website and in 2014, went to Saudi Arabia before returning to the United States in July of that year with Malik on a visa. They wed that year and had a daughter, now 6 months, in 2015.
Levin and other experts say they would not be surprised if Malik guided the attacks. Malik might have even been an ISIS recruiter using dating websites to lure men, said Anita Porterfield, who along with her husband, John Porterfield, wrote “Death on Base: The Fort Hood Massacre,” a profile of Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, who killed four people and wounded 14 in a shooting at the Texas military base in in 2014.
The Islamic State group’s official radio station has aired a statement Saturday, Dec. 5 saying the mass shooting in California was carried out by two “supporters” of the extremist group.
While praising the attack, the group stopped short of claiming responsibility for it. The Al-Bayan report Saturday echoed a claim carried Friday by the IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency.
In its English-language broadcast, the Islamic State’s Bayan radio station referred to the couple who carried out the attack as “soldiers of the caliphate,” a term denoting members of the terrorist group’s army. The Islamic State group has used the same term to refer to gunmen who have carried out attacks in its name.
In the broadcast about the California shootings, the Islamic State said, “Two soldiers of the khilafah executed an attack on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, on the 20th of Safar,” according to a transcript provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi propaganda. Safar is the second month of the Islamic calendar. “Light weapons were used which led to the deaths of 14 disbelievers.”
But the Arabic-language broadcast differed from the group’s broadcast in English. In the Arabic version, the assailants are referred to as “supporters” of the caliphate, a term denoting a less direct connection to the terrorist group. It is unclear why the two versions differ.
The FBI acknowledges knowing little about Malik. Those who attended mosque with her husband, Syed Farook, said they know nearly nothing of her. Even Farook’s mother, who lived with the couple and their 6-month-old daughter, knows little, according to attorneys for Farook’s family.
In Pakistan, a relative of Malik says she apparently became a more zealous follower of the Muslim faith about three years ago.
Hifza Batool told The Associated Press on Saturday that other relatives have said that Malik, who was her step-niece, used to wear Western clothes but began wearing the hijab head covering or the all-covering burqa donned by the most conservative Muslim women about three years ago.
“I recently heard it from relatives that she has become a religious person and she often tells people to live according to the teachings of Islam,” said Batool, 35, a private school teacher who lives in Karor Lal Esam, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) southwest of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
President Barack Obama says this week’s deadly California shootings were “an act of terror” carried out by attackers who were possibly radicalized to commit it.
The president’s comments came during his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, a day after the FBI said it was investigating Wednesday’s shootings as “an act of terrorism.
Obama says proven radicalization would underscore the threat posed by people who give in to violent extremist ideologies.