U.S. law enforcement officials said that gun charges are expected to be announced Thursday against Enrique Marquez, who bought the assault rifles used in the San Bernardino attack.
It is not clear if Marquez, 24, has been arrested yet.
Marquez has been at the center of the extensive federal investigation of the massacre carried out by his former neighbor, Syed Rizwan Farook, and Farook’s Pakistani wife, Tashfeen Malik.
Authorities have said Marquez purchased two assault rifles used in the fatal shooting that killed 14 people.
A news conference is scheduled later Wednesday in San Bernardino.
Law enforcement authorities searched Marquez’s home on Dec. 5, several days after the deadliest terrorist assault on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, Marquez was not charged with a crime.
Two days before his Riverside home was raided, Marquez had posted a strange, garbled message on Facebook: “I’m. Very sorry sguys. 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.
The co-workers feared that he may have become suicidal. In fact, he had checked himself into a mental-health facility sometime in the immediate aftermath of the Dec. 2 shooting rampage.
Two U.S. law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that Marquez had been drinking heavily when he admitted himself into the facility at UCLA.
One of the sources added that the FBI is trying to determine if Marquez was “grandstanding” during his interviews with the FBI. Agents have been trying to corroborate his statements. The official said authorities are trying to determine if Marquez is a reliable “narrator” of the time he spent with Farook.
According to officials, Marquez told the FBI that he and Farook had discussed mounting some sort of attack in 2012, but then he got spooked after a terrorism investigation based in Riverside resulted in the arrest of four local men in November of that year for plotting to kill Americans in Afghanistan. The men were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.
Agents have been investigating whether those men or any of their associates – or the FBI’s confidential informant in that case – had contact with Farook or Marquez. Lawyers involved in the case said they were unaware of a direct connection.
It is not clear whether Farook and Marquez chose a specific target or time to carry out the attack they had discussed, the officials said. The FBI is investigating whether the rifles that Marquez bought were intended for use in that 2012 attack that was called off, the officials said.
If they were – or if Marquez knew at the time when he transferred the rifles to Farook that they were going to be used for a violent act – he could be charged with a federal felony, law enforcement officials told The Washington Post last week. Authorities have said previously that they do not believe Marquez had any direct knowledge of the later plot by Farook and Malik.
Marquez, 24, is literally the boy next door in this unfolding narrative: He lived for many years with his family in a one-story beige house directly next to Farook. Both attended La Sierra High School in Riverside, but several years apart. Neighbors say the two young men would spend hours at a time dismantling and repairing cars on the driveway of Farook’s house.
Marquez converted to Islam several years ago and for a time worshiped at a mosque in Corona.
Yousuf Bhaghani, president of the board of the mosque, said Marquez attended about four years ago but then stopped coming. “Some people made the comment that he was goofy,” he said.
Rob Kuznia and Sari Horwitz in San Bernardino and Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report, which has been updated.