DOJ says Apple hasn’t helped unlock Pensacola shooter’s iPhones. Apple says it only asked a week ago.

Apple disputed Attorney General William Barr’s statement that the company hasn’t helped federal investigators unlock two iPhones used by the Saudi shooter who killed three people at a Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, last month.

Barr made the statement Monday as he announced the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola was an “act of terrorism.” 

In a statement released late Monday night, Apple said it started helping investigators “within hours of the FBI’s first request” on Dec. 6, the day the Saudi pilot, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, fired on service members at the base.

“The FBI only notified us on January 6th that they needed additional assistance — a month after the attack occurred,” Apple said. “Only then did we learn about the existence of a second iPhone associated with the investigation and the FBI’s inability to access either iPhone.”

Barr’s comments — and Apple’s lengthy rebuttal — rekindled a longstanding dispute between the company and law enforcement over cracking encrypted passwords on suspects’ iPhones, which has implications for consumers’ privacy.

DOJ investigation:Shooting at Pensacola Navy base was ‘act of terrorism,’ attorney general says

Barr: ‘Apple has not given us any substantive assistance’

During a news conference Monday, Barr said investigators recovered two heavily-damaged iPhones from the deceased shooter. The gunman is believed to have shot one of them in an effort to render it unusable.

Investigators rebuilt both phones, but they have been unable to bypass the encrypted passwords to gain access to the data. 

“We have asked Apple for their help in unlocking the shooter’s iPhones,” Barr said. “So far, Apple has not given us any substantive assistance. This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that investigators be able to get access to digital evidence once they have obtained a court order based on probable cause.”