LOS ANGELES — When authorities named the two shooters who struck San Bernardino last week, Enrique Marquez immediately called his close friend to share his shock.
“As soon as he found out who the [shooter] was he called,” Marquez’s friend, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, told The Daily Beast.
Marquez, 24, not only lived next door to Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, but also shared an interest with Farook for fixing cars, studying Islam, and firing guns, the friend says. Marquez allegedly gave two assault-style weapons used to kill 14 people at the Inland Regional Center to Farook after feds say he purchased them in 2011 and 2012. The FBI raided his home on Saturday morning, but said he is not now a person of interest or suspect in the attack.
“The conversation throughout was: ‘OK, this is someone I know. This is someone that used to be my friend,’ the friend recalled Marquez saying on that fateful Wednesday night.
The friend says Marquez, who is a security guard for “a major corporation,” had no hand in the massacre.
“I know that he didn’t know what was being planned. He wasn’t in the circle.”
Farook and Marquez, the friend said, enjoyed “working on cars together” and shared an interest in guns as a hobby.
Marquez was also curious about Islam.
“I think it was more of an intellectual interest,” the friend said. “Enrique did read the Quran and I do remember him saying that [Farook] was a lot more dedicated to it than he was.”
At some point over the past three years Marquez parted ways with Farook who was apparently following a more conservative version of the faith.
Since the disturbing experience with Farook, it’s been years since Marquez had been to a mosque, the friend said.
“He threw the brakes on after they were getting more extreme with the religion.”
After it was revealed Farook was a cold-blooded killer, Marquez began to lose it on the phone.
“When it came to the weapons thing he’s like, ‘Oh my god! What the fuck?’” his friend explained. “I could barely understand what he was saying.”
Marquez might have shot guns with Farook, but those were far from his only interests. Marquez was an avid cyclist, hiker, computer geek, and animal lover, according to his friend.
“He was quiet and definitely into computers,” the friend said. “He’ll go hiking with me and he’s been riding his bike a lot lately.”
In fact, Marquez was about to put on the uniform to serve his country in the Navy. The friend believes Marquez was inspired to join by Farook’s brother, who was in the Navy.
“He wound up with a ship date, but I think he had a weight issue,” the friend said of Marquez “squishy” stature. “He was trying to get in shape and go to boot camp.”
“Now it just seems like that’s not going to be an option.”
Marquez’s friend stresses that he is “a big softy” and one of the warmest people on the planet. “He’s very nice and the kind of person you could call if you need something.
“I know there’s been a few of our mutual friends who have relationship issues and they reach out on Facebook and who shows up to keep them company? Enrique.”
Overcome with the stress brought on by last week’s tragedy, Marquez “checked himself” into a mental health facility, the friend confirmed.
But he wasn’t feigning sickness to duck the feds, as some have speculated.
“It’s not like he has been trying to escape anything,” the friend said, describing Marquez’s institutionalized state at the time. “I don’t know how anyone in that situation would be able to handle it.”