FBI reportedly can't get into Dayton mass shooter suspect's phone

The agency said it could take years to crack his passcode, according to a report.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Droid X passcode screen

The FBI reportedly can't get past the suspect's phone passcode.

Amanda Kooser/CNET

The FBI has reportedly been unsuccessful this week in trying to crack the PIN on a phone belonging to the suspect in Sunday's mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said if the suspect used a six- or eight-digit passcode, it could take months or years to break, The Hill reported Thursday. 

The shooting left nine people dead and 27 injured. The suspected shooter was killed by police at the scene.

The FBI has been able to unlock one of the alleged shooter's phones, a Samsung device, a Senate Democratic source told CBS News Thursday. However, the suspect, Connor Betts, of Bellbrook, Ohio, had multiple phones . It's unclear whether the other phones are Android or Apple devices.

"We don't know when we are going to get into the phone," Bowditch told House Democrats earlier this week, according to The Hill.

The FBI didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Following the 2015 San Bernardino, California, mass shooting that left 14 people dead, an iPhone belonging to the suspect was likewise at the center of a legal battle between the government and Apple.

The US government had wanted Apple to produce software that could unlock the phone, but Apple refused. The Department of Justice in March 2016 said it eventually used an outside party to help break into the iPhone 5C . The FBI released a 100-page document in January 2017 detailing how it broke into the smartphone, but much of the report was censored.

Watch this: FBI drops Apple court case after unlocking terrorist's iPhone