Apple reached out to the FBI to offer advice on how to gain entry into the iPhone of the gunman who opened fire on a Texas church this week, after the tech giant learned that investigators were trying to access its data.
Reuters reported on Thursday that the FBI did not initially ask Apple for help unlocking the phone, and that the company did not receive requests on the matter from law enforcement within 48 hours of the attack. According to The Associated Press, the FBI may have missed its opportunity to unlock the phone using methods such as the owner's fingerprint.
If the phone had Apple's Touch ID feature, which uses fingerprints to unlock the phone, investigators could have tried to hold the dead gunman's finger on the phone, according to an AP source. That would have had to have been attempted within 48 hours of the last time the phone was unlocked.
On Sunday, a gunman, who has been identified by law enforcement as Devin Kelley, 26, opened fire in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, leaving at least 26 people dead and several others injured. Kelley was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds, including one that was self-inflicted, after fleeing the scene.
Law enforcement has butted heads with tech companies in the past over gaining access to encrypted devices that could contain valuable evidence. Tech companies have argued that creating an entry point for law enforcement would compromise overall security and privacy.
Apple denied an FBI request last year to unlock the iPhone of a gunman in an attack in San Bernardino, Calif. The Justice Department sought to pressure Apple to do so, but ultimately dropped the matter after the FBI received the help of a professional hacker to unlock the device.