The suspected gunman was also found dead in a wooded area in the park.
Trigger Warning: The following story contains details of gun violence that might be disturbing to readers.
A family of four from Cedar Falls, Iowa was shot in their tent at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground.
Tyler Schmidt, 42, Sarah Schmidt, 42 and their 6-year-old daughter, Lula Schmidt were found dead inside the tent. Their nine-year-old son, Arlo, survived the shooting, reports HuffPost. The Iowa Department of Public Safety said that officials promptly evacuated the park, a nearby children's summer camp and the campsite. After the evacuation, the only registered camper who had not been found was 23-year-old, Anthony Sherwin.
Division assistant director Mitch Mortvedt told The Associated Press, "He was known to be armed. That of course heightened our awareness as well." Sherwin, the suspected gunman, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area of the park. Sherwin hailed from Nebraska, and investigators think he had no prior contact with the victims. The motive of the shooting hasn't been determined yet.
A 6-year-old girl was among three Iowa family members fatally shot while camping in a state park, apparently killed by a man from Nebraska who later turned the gun on himself. https://t.co/Oa8bMVzoe9— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 23, 2022
Sarah Schmidt's brother, Adam Morehouse, claimed the family had no relationship with Sherwin and that it was a "completely random act." Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green, who claims to be the Schmidts' neighbor, stated on Facebook on Friday that the couple's 9-year-old son, Arlo, "survived the attack and is safe." The post did not specify if Arlo was in the tent or even at the campsite at the time of the gunshots.
Morehouse also confirmed that Arlo was with the family on their camping trip but he had no idea where he was at the time of the shooting. He said, "He is with family and he is OK, but I have not had any interaction with him. As far as I know, he was uninjured physically."
A GoFundMe campaign has been created for Arlo to help in his future education.
People with permits can carry firearms practically anyplace in Iowa. Officials did not indicate if Sherwin had a permit and did not provide anything about the firearm used to kill the Schmidts.
A 23-year-old man gunned down three campers at Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground in Iowa park before killing himself. https://t.co/hjjLHQF8xR— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) July 22, 2022
Felicia Coe, 35, of Des Moines, was at the campground with her boyfriend and her two boys, aged 11 and 16, on Friday morning. Their family was immediately asked to leave the campground. Coe had no idea what had transpired at the moment. However, she recalls seeing a young child standing near the paramedics. She said, "He was in his pajamas. I distinctly remember he had one blue tennis shoe." She later recognized the child as Arlo.
Coe further added, "He’s got this really cute, floppy-curly, moppy, strawberry-blond hair that’s really distinguishable. He was in these super cute little pajamas, like a cotton T-shirt and shorts that matched. ... He was just standing there. He wasn’t crying. He wasn’t distraught. But he also wasn’t being comforted. He was just standing there by himself."
"It’s hard to be so grateful that it wasn’t your family, when you know that another family, is just being ripped apart — multiple families."
Rob Green said of the family, "The best way to describe all four of them was the quintessential Midwestern family. They gave everybody everything they possibly could. They loved family ... They enjoyed the outdoors, enjoyed the hiking — and this is just a question mark of ‘Why that campground and that campsite on that night?’ "
Cover Image Source: YouTube | ABC News