Photographs of victims of the San Bernardino shooting are seen as people hold candles while attending a vigil held to remember those injured and killed on Dec. 7, 2015.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images
February 22, 2016 10:26 AM EST

Some survivors of the deadly San Bernardino shooting plan to file a legal brief to show their support for a government order that forces Apple to unlock a gunman’s iPhone.

“They were targeted by terrorists, and they need to know why, how this could happen,” Stephen Larson, a lawyer representing an unknown number of victims, told Reuters on Sunday. The amicus brief, to be filed in court by early March, comes amid an ongoing clash between Apple and the FBI, which wants Apple to help authorities hack Syed Farook’s county-owned work phone.

FBI Director James Comey said in a statement Sunday that federal officials wouldn’t be able to “look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror” if they didn’t pursue the lead. Fourteen people were killed and 21 others were injured after Farook and his wife opened fire at a holiday party for county employees in December.

“The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message. It is about the victims and justice,” Comey said. “We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law. That’s what this is.”

The FBI “simply” wants the chance to guess the terrorist’s passcode in a timely matter without the phone destroying its data from too many failed attempts, Comey said. Apple CEO Tim Cook has resisted the request and called for the FBI order to be dropped.

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