FBI Didn't Ask Apple for Help Unlocking Texas Shooter's iPhone in First 48 Hours [Updated]

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In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Texas Church on November 5th, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies failed to immediately ask Apple for help unlocking shooter Devin Patrick Kelley's iPhone, reports Reuters.

According to a source that spoke to Reuters, the FBI did not contact Apple for about 48 hours after the shooting, missing a critical window where the iPhone in question might have been easier to unlock.

If the iPhone had Touch ID enabled, the shooter's finger might have been able to be used to unlock the device. But that unlocking method would have needed to be used within a 48 hour window, as Touch ID is disabled after 48 hours have passed since it was last activated or when the iPhone is powered off.

Christopher Combs, head of the FBI's San Antonio field office, said on Tuesday that the shooter's smartphone is being transferred to the FBI's crime lab in Quantico, Virginia as authorities have not been able to unlock it.

Little is known about the shooter's smartphone at this time. Sources told the Washington Post that it's an iPhone, but it's not known which iPhone it is nor which version of iOS it's running. It's also not known if Touch ID was indeed enabled on the phone at this point.

As we learned with the San Bernardino case, Apple will not provide authorities with the tools to unlock the iPhone, but the company can and will provide iCloud data if compelled by court order. It is not known if Apple has already received a court order asking for iCloud information.

Update: Apple has provided a statement on the situation with the smartphone owned by the Texas shooter.

We were shocked and saddened by the violence in Texas last Sunday, and we join the world in grieving for the families and the community that lost so many loved ones.

Our team immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference on Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone. We offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us.

We work with law enforcement every day. We offer training to thousands of agents so they understand our devices and how they can quickly request information from Apple.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: FBI, Apple-FBI

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
35 months ago

And somehow it'll still be Apple's fault, as usual :rolleyes:

No it's the freaking shooters fault. It's the military and their lack of competence to ensure this guy couldn't buy them legally. Sure, he might have still bought guns illegally. He might have still found a way. However, we will never know now, will we?

The lives he took couldn't be saved by looking through his phone. We can't undo the loss he rained upon my friend and her daughters. It won't change a damn thing now.

We know his motive, we know he bought guns legally for some asinine reason, and we know that we need to look into the reason why our gun laws failed here.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
After last time I can see why. Apple is not willing to do anything out of the ordinary to unlock these devices and I agree with that stance to be honest.

Also the guy is dead and the motive is pretty much that he had a grudge with a family member and acted alone so I doubt there's much of any evidence on the phone leading to a larger conspiracy.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Too bad FBI, you’re on your own now. Do your job.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago

The law didn't fail, the Air Force failed.
Had they provided the data after his conviction, the NICS system would have denied the sale.

Even the NRA is backing the "Fix NICS" bill that's been sitting in Congress for years now.
The bill adds additional reporting requirements to the NICS system by courts and law enforcement agencies.
The mental health issues still have HIPPA laws preventing some data from hitting the NICS system. That's going to be a tougher fight to get that data added.

You're right. The Airforce should be paying for every funeral right now. They should be combing over every single person they discharged who has crime history like this guy.

I've got a mental illness and I don't care who disagrees but no one with one should be anywhere near a gun.

That's how I've felt all along. Even before I lost my friend and her daughters to this senseless tragedy.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago

No it's the freaking shooters fault. It's the military and their lack of competence to ensure this guy couldn't buy them legally. Sure, he might have still bought guns illegally. He might have still found a way. However, we will never know now, will we?

The lives he took couldn't be saved by looking through his phone. We can't undo the loss he rained upon my friend and her daughters. It won't change a damn thing now.

We know his motive, we know he bought guns legally for some asinine reason, and we know that we need to look into the reason why our gun laws failed here.

The law didn't fail, the Air Force failed.
Had they provided the data after his conviction, the NICS system would have denied the sale.

Even the NRA is backing the "Fix NICS" bill that's been sitting in Congress for years now.
The bill adds additional reporting requirements to the NICS system by courts and law enforcement agencies.
The mental health issues still have HIPPA laws preventing some data from hitting the NICS system. That's going to be a tougher fight to get that data added.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago

Really sorry for your loss...

Thank you. It's still really hard to grasp just how quickly a life can be taken away. One day you are reading their post about wanting to go to a picnic, the next their family is writing that they are gone.

I can't be mad at Apple, the FBI, right now I'm mad at the guy. I'm frustrated with the military. I'm sad that I know this event isn't the first, nor will it be the last either.

How I wish it was.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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