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Families of San Bernardino Victims Want Apple to Help FBI

"What if others are attacked and you did nothing to prevent it?" the parent of one victim wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Brian Vander Brug / Getty Images

While the national debate rages over encryption and how best to balance security and safety considerations, five people who lost family members in the San Bernardino mass shooting voiced more personal concerns.

These five people want to know if their family members — their daughters, wives, son and father — were targeted by their former co-worker. They want to know if anyone else aided in the Dec. 2 attack. They want to know if there’s another attack coming. And they asked for Apple’s help.

In a court document filed today, the family members sided with the government’s request that Apple help unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, in hopes it will yield new information in the case. They urge the court to set aside the larger questions about the fate of smartphone encryption and data privacy “for another day and another forum.”

“No one knows with certainty that unique data resides on the phone,” wrote attorney Stephen G. Larson, adding, “It may, if nothing else, give some measure of closure to the survivors and families of loved ones who have suffered every day since this terrible crime. [The families] are eager that no stone be left unturned in investigating this horrible act.”

The filing includes a letter from Mark Sandefur, father of one of the victims, to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Sandefur’s son, Larry Kaufman, worked as an instructor for people with disabilities in San Bernardino and was among the 14 people killed. In the letter, the father describes witness accounts of a third assailant “walking around in heavy boots as they carried out their murders.”

“Recovery of information from that iPhone in question may not lead to anything new,” Sandefur wrote. “But, what if there is evidence pointing to a third shooter? What if it leads to an unknown terrorist cell? What if others are attacked and you did nothing to prevent it?”

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