Saturday, September 24, 2022

Iowa family killed in campground shooting survived by 9-year-old son



The three victims of a shooting at an Iowa campground on Friday were a mother, father and child, according to law enforcement and local officials.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation identified them as Tyler and Sarah Schmidt, both 42, and their daughter Lula, 6, of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The Schmidts’ 9-year-old son, Arlo, “survived the attack, and is safe,” Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green wrote in a Facebook post.

Police were “notified of a triple homicide” Friday morning at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground in eastern Iowa. Officers found the three victims and, after a brief search, the body of Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23, the suspect in the killings who apparently shot himself, police said.

3 people killed in shooting at Iowa state park; shooter also dead, police say

The state medical examiner is set to conduct autopsies on the victims, as well as on Sherwin, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said. A motive was not yet clear.

Green said he was “devastated” by the Schmidts’ deaths, noting that they were “regular walkers here in the Sartori Park neighborhood” of Cedar Falls, a city of 40,000. He remembered Sarah Schmidt as “a beloved library employee” at the Cedar Falls Public Library, where Green invited neighbors and friends to leave cards and mementos in honor of the family.

As of late Saturday, a GoFundMe fundraiser for Arlo Schmidt had drawn more than 2,000 donations amounting to more than $100,000. “Arlo is a strong boy, surrounded by family and friends who are supporting him as best we can,” said Beth Shapiro, the fundraiser’s organizer, who said she was Sarah Schmidt’s cousin.

Adam Morehouse, Sarah Schmidt’s brother, told the Associated Press that the family had no connection to Sherwin and that he believed it was a “completely random act.” Morehouse confirmed that Arlo was on the family’s camping trip but said he did not know exactly where the boy was at the time of the shooting.

The state park was closed after the shooting, which also forced the evacuation of the Camp Shalom children’s summer camp.

Known as a destination for spelunkers and hikers, Maquoketa Caves State Park has more caves than any other state park in Iowa. About 61 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids, the park features 13 caves, including Dancehall Cave, which is about 800 feet long, according to its website.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said in a statement that she was “horrified by the shooting this morning at Maquoketa Caves State Park and devastated by the loss of three innocent lives.”

Timothy Bella contributed to this report.

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