Federal authorities are responding to a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a small community southeast of San Antonio.
In a press conference Sunday night, an official from the Texas Department of Public Safety described the scene: Around 11:20 am, the suspect, dressed in black, approached the church and began firing an assault rifle. He then entered the church and continued firing.
Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed that at least 26 people were killed. A Texas Department of Public Safety official said the ages of the victims ranged from 5 to 72 years old. The AP reports that the pastor's 14-year-old daughter is among the dead.
The Department of Public Safety confirmed to NPR that at least 20 others were wounded. A DPS official said in the press conference that the gunman was confronted by an armed civilian outside of the church.
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The Texas Rangers have served Apple a warrant for iPhone and iCloud data connected to the recent mass shooter Devin Patrick Kelley. However, it is unknown whether Kelley actually used iCloud to store data, and unlikely that Apple will be able or willing to help unlock the iPhone:
Texas Rangers investigating the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs have served a search warrant on Silicon Valley giant Apple Inc. and are seeking digital photos, messages, documents and other types of data that might have been stored by gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, who was found with an iPhone after he killed himself.
Court records obtained by the San Antonio Express-News show Texas Ranger Kevin Wright obtained search warrants on Nov. 9 for files stored on Kelley's iPhone, a second mobile phone found near his body and for files stored in Kelley's iCloud account — Apple's digital archive that can sync iPhone files.
The iCloud feature is an optional service. Obtaining such records, if they exist, directly from Apple could aid authorities investigating the worst mass shooting in modern Texas history. Apple's policy regarding iCloud content states that material may be provided to law enforcement agencies if they obtain search warrants.
In addition, the FBI may have already screwed it up.
At a press conference, an FBI spokesman blamed industry standard encryption for preventing the agency from accessing the recent Texas mass shooter's locked iPhone. Reuters later reported that the FBI did not try to contact Apple during a 48-hour window in which the shooter's fingerprint may have been able to unlock the phone. Apple said in a statement that after seeing the press conference, the company contacted the FBI itself to offer assistance. Finally, the Washington Post reports (archive) that an FBI official acknowledged Apple's offer but said it did not need the company's assistance:
After the FBI said it was dealing with a phone it couldn't open, Apple reached out to the bureau to learn whether the phone was an iPhone and whether the FBI was seeking assistance. An FBI official responded late Tuesday, saying that it was an iPhone but that the agency was not asking anything of the company at this point. That's because experts at the FBI's lab in Quantico, Va., are trying to determine if there are other methods, such as cloud storage or a linked laptop, that would provide access to the phone's data, these people said. They said that process could take weeks.
If the FBI and Apple had talked to each other in the first two days after the attack, it's possible the device might already be open. That time frame may have been critical because Apple's iPhone "Touch ID" — which uses a fingerprint to unlock the device — stops working after 48 hours. It wasn't immediately clear whether the gunman had activated Touch ID on his phone, but more than 80 percent of iPhone owners do use that feature. If the bureau had consulted the company, Apple engineers would likely have told the bureau to take steps such as putting the dead gunman's finger to the phone to see if doing so would unlock it. It was unclear whether the FBI tried to use the dead man's finger to open the device in the first two days.
In a statement, Apple said: "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."
Also at Engadget.
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