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

by

fbi logoIn 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

Septembersrain Avatar
40 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)
Quu Avatar
40 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)
dannyyankou Avatar
40 months ago
Too bad FBI, you’re on your own now. Do your job.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Septembersrain Avatar
40 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)
rjohnstone Avatar
40 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)
Septembersrain Avatar
40 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)

Top Stories

m1 chip macbook air pro

Kuo: Redesigned MacBooks With Apple Silicon to Launch in Second Half of 2021

Tuesday November 24, 2020 7:53 pm PST by
Apple plans to release additional MacBook models with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as part of the company's two-year transition away from Intel processors across its Mac lineup. In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that these MacBook models will feature a new design. Kuo did not specify which models these will be, but he...
Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
13 16 inch macbook pro air trio

Reliable Leaker Suggests Redesigned MacBooks in 2021 Will Include Both Apple Silicon and Intel Models

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:15 am PST by
Reliable leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today suggested on Twitter that redesigned MacBooks coming in the second half of 2021 will include models with both Apple Silicon chips and Intel processors. The brief Tweet came in response to a MacRumors article from earlier today, which outlined a report from Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple plans to release redesigned MacBook models with Apple ...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
app store christmas icon

Apple Shutting Down App Store Connect From December 23 to December 27

Monday November 23, 2020 10:14 am PST by
Apple shuts down App Store Connect for a week around the holidays each year in an effort to give App Store staff time off from work. This year, App Store Connect will be unavailable from December 23 to December 27. With App Store Connect unavailable, Apple will not accept new apps or app updates, so all pricing changes and new app submissions need to be locked in before those dates for...
iPads black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPad Deals

Tuesday November 24, 2020 8:51 am PST by
Although we're still a few days away from the official launch of Black Friday, we've known for a few weeks that many retailers would be kicking off discounts ahead of November 27. Because of this trend, today we're tracking discounts across Apple's lineup of iPads, including the 10.2-inch iPad and 2020 iPad Pro. More sales are likely to appear as the week progresses, and when they do we'll update ...
Target November Deals 1

Black Friday Spotlight: Target Begins Week-Long Sale With Deals on iPhone 12, Powerbeats Pro, and More

Monday November 23, 2020 8:07 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Target. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....
new mac mini logicpro screen

M1 Macs Able to Run Up to Six External Displays Using DisplayLink

Tuesday November 24, 2020 6:53 am PST by
It is possible to run up to six external displays from the M1 Mac mini, and five external displays from the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with the aid of DisplayPort adapters, according to YouTuber Ruslan Tulupov. This far exceeds Apple's specified limits on external displays with the M1 Macs. Apple's host of new M1 Macs are not capable of supporting as many external displays as their...
2020 apple shopping event

Apple Offering Up to $150 Gift Card With Select Products on Black Friday Through Cyber Monday

Monday November 23, 2020 2:53 am PST by
Apple has announced its annual four-day shopping event, offering customers up to a $150 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of select products between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States. The gift card values in the United States are as follows: $150 for 16-inch MacBook Pro $150 for 21.5-inch iMac $50 for 13-inch MacBook Pro $50 for MacBook Air $50 for iPhone SE,...