The suspect in the killings, a 23-year-old man, was found dead in the same park with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Trigger Warning: This story mentions details of gun violence that may be disturbing for readers.
A 9-year-old boy is left with no family after his parents and his six-year-old sister were shot dead during a family camping trip in Iowa, officials said.
The victims have been identified by the Iowa Department of Public Safety as Tyler Schmidt, 42, his 42-year-old wife, Sarah Schmidt, and their 6-year-old daughter, Lula Schmidt, all of Cedar Falls, Iowa, according to HuffPost.
Their bodies were found on July 22, 2022, at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground, roughly 180 miles east of Des Moines, per New York Post. According to the authorities, 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin, the alleged shooter, was discovered dead on Friday with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area of the park.
Three family members were found shot to death on Friday at a campground at Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa and the suspect in the killings, a 23-year-old man, was found about a mile away with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the authorities said. https://t.co/fpQ2CXz8Nc— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 22, 2022
Unfortunately, the motive behind the killing still remains a mystery.
“We don’t know what led up to this, what precipitated it,” Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Department of Public Safety’s division of criminal investigation, told The Associated Press. He then added that “the investigation has not revealed any early interaction between the Schmidt family and him.” Sherwin is a La Vista, Nebraska native with no previous criminal history.
Adam Morehouse, Sarah Schmidt’s brother, also claimed that the killings were completely random adding that the couple’s 9-year-old son, Arlo, was "uninjured physically" and that he has not had any interaction with him.
9-year-old boy orphaned after parents, sister gunned down by man who then shot himself￼ https://t.co/40u0z1WzeS— Queenie’s Blog (@queeniesblog) July 25, 2022
Meanwhile, Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green shared on social media that Arlo, “survived the attack, and is safe.” However, Mayor Green, who is a neighbor of the Schmidts, did not specify if he was with the family at the time of the shooting.
“Like many of you just hearing the news, I’m devastated,” Green wrote on Facebook. “I knew Sarah well, and she & her family were regular walkers here in the Sartori Park neighborhood. I was working with her this week on a public library tech presentation for 7/26.”
Law enforcement officials, who responded to the shooting before 6:30 AM on July 22, immediately evacuated the park and accounted for all campers there except Sherwin. Mortvedt said that during the investigation, authorities learned Sherwin was armed, and “that, of course, heightened our awareness.”
Morehouse described all four of them as "the quintessential Midwestern family" who "enjoyed the outdoors, enjoyed the hiking — and this is just a question mark of ‘Why that campground and that campsite on that night?’”
Felicia Coe, 35, of Des Moines, her boyfrie, and his two sons, ages 11 and 16 who were at the campground on the same day were instructed to leave the place by park rangers around 6:30 am. By the time she went to look for the 16-year-old, more law enforcement and an ambulance showed up. Coe recalled seeing a little boy standing near the paramedics.
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
“He was in his pajamas. I distinctly remember he had one blue tennis shoe,” she said. When she later saw a picture of the Schmidt family online, she realized the boy she saw was Arlo.
“He’s got this really cute, floppy-curly, moppy, strawberry-blond hair that’s really distinguishable,” Coe said. “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.”
A GoFundMe has been set up in Arlo's name to raise funds. The donations made will be used to help "Arlo now and to build some savings for his future education," the page's description read.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe