Apple has received a search warrant obtained by the Texas Rangers from a federal judge to access content on the iPhone belonging to a man who went on a shooting rampage and killed and injured dozens at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
The Rangers obtained the warrant earlier in November, according to a report in the San Antonio Express-News. FBI had recently expressed frustration that investigators weren’t able to reach protected data on Devin Patrick Kelley’s phone.
Kelley fled the church and was then confronted and shot and wounded by a local resident. Then after a short car chase Kelley killed himself.
At the time law enforcement officials refused to release the make and model of the phone. FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs told reporters this was done, “because I don’t want to tell every bad guy out there what phone to buy.”
Combs said that “With the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryptions, law enforcement — whether that’s at the state, local or federal level — is increasingly not able to get into these phones.”
In early 2015 the FBI and Apple were spoiling for a fight in what promised to be an epic battle between privacy and government overreach. No sooner had the two suited up and laced their gloves, than the battle fizzled out after the FBI used a third party to crack the iPhone 5C used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook that was at the heart of the controversy.
But In the Texas shooter case, Apple pushed back against the FBI’s statement that due to the smartphone industry’s encryption standard it could not get into the shooter’s iPhone, saying that it had in fact reached out and offered suggestions on how to open the phone.