The iPhone of Devin Kelley, who shot dead 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday before killing himself, was seized by a crime lab affiliated with the FBI in Quantico, Virginia, but federal experts were not able to unlock it.
On Tuesday, the FBI confirmed that the shooter’s phone was still unlocked but declined to confirm that it was an iPhone. However, a source told Reuters that the handset was indeed an iPhone.
Sources also told Reuters that it took the FBI more than 48 hours to contact Apple Inc and get technical assistance in unlocking Kelley’s phone. The law enforcement agency hadn’t received assistance from state or local law enforcement agencies either over that time period. The report suggests the feds weren’t able to hack into the shooter’s online accounts without Apple’s help either.
Precious Time Has Been Lost
Experts think that the delay may have been critical. If the gunman had used his fingerprint to lock his handset, authorities could have used his finger post-mortem to unlock the gadget, unless the battery had gone dry or the device had been restarted.
However, the iPhone model Kelley was using during the shooting required a pass code after two days of not unlocking the phone as an extra measure of precaution.
What’s more, the FBI could have asked Apple to hand over the iCloud data the shooter stored on his online storage account. As of Wednesday, however, the bureau hadn’t asked for the iPhone maker’s assistance and it wasn’t immediately clear if Apple received a court order for the online data.
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