Friday at a state campground in Iowa, two parents and their 6-year-old daughter were shot and killed; their 9-year-old son was unharmed, according to officials.
Authorities reported that the alleged shooter was also discovered dead in the park from what seemed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The triple killing took place Friday just before 6:30 a.m. at Maquoketa Caves State Park in Jackson County. Investigators are still trying to figure out how the victims and suspect are related.
The three victims’ bodies were discovered at their campground by the responding police. Officers discovered there was a camper registered at the campground who was missing while they searched and evacuated the area, according to the authorities.
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Mike Krapfl told ABC station WQAD in Moline, Illinois, “They noticed that there was one camper unaccounted for who they suspected may have possibly been armed.” They looked about for that person, and later, at around 11 a.m., we discovered a dead person inside the park.
DCI identified the suspect as Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23. The agency does not have any information on a motive, Mitch Mortvedt, DCI assistant director, told ABC News Saturday.
There is believed to be no ongoing risk to the public and the Maquoketa Caves State Park is closed until further notice, authorities said.
DCI identified the victims Friday night as Tyler Schmidt and Sarah Schmidt, both 42, and Lula Schmidt, 6. The family was from Cedar Falls.
Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green said he was “devastated” after hearing the news.
“I knew Sarah well, and she & her family were regular walkers here in the Sartori Park neighborhood,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
Green said the family’s 9-year-old son, Arlo, survived the attack “and is safe.” No further details were provided.
When asked about the boy, Mortvedt said DCI is not releasing any further information at this time on the case.
“The mayor did not receive any information from law enforcement nor is he privileged to it,” Mortvedt said.
According to Green, Sarah Schmidt worked at the Cedar Falls Public Library. Following the tragedy, the library was closed on Saturday to give her coworkers a chance to grieve, he added.
More information on the funeral and other monuments planned for the family, according to Green, will be forthcoming.
He asked for additional understanding for the numerous friends, neighbors, and coworkers of the Schmidts as they tried to digest this terrible event.
On Twitter, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds expressed her horror at the shooting and her devastation at the loss of three innocent lives.
I’m horrified by the shooting this morning at Maquoketa Caves State Park and devastated by the loss of three innocent lives. As we grieve this unimaginable tragedy, Kevin and I pray for the victims’ family members and the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene.
— Gov. Kim Reynolds (@IAGovernor) July 22, 2022
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which looks after the state parks, announced that its staff is collaborating with law enforcement on the inquiry.
Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Kayla Lyon stated in a statement on Friday, “Our longstanding tradition of enjoying Iowa’s natural marvels was rattled today, but the legacy for the millions of families that recreate in Iowa State Parks will endure.” The DNR family is deeply affected by this tragic tragedy, not just because we are enthusiastic about encouraging people to spend time outdoors but also because we frequently camp with our families in these same areas.
The autopsies of the three victims will be performed by the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, and the results will be made public, according to DCI. The suspect will be subjected to an autopsy by the state medical examiner.