CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (WHO) — Family and friends are leaning on each other to support a nine-year-old Iowa boy who survived a deadly shooting that killed both of his parents and his younger sister on Friday at Maquoketa Caves State Park.
Three campers were killed and another camper took his own life at Maquoketa Caves State Park in eastern Iowa, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation reports.
The names of the victims have been confirmed as Tyler Schmidt, 42; Sarah Schmidt, 42; and Lula Schmidt, 6; all from Cedar Falls. Their bodies were found in their tent early Friday at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground, about 180 miles east of Des Moines.
According to a news release, authorities were called to the park in Jackson County on a report of a triple homicide at 6:23 a.m. on Friday. Authorities immediately began searching for another unaccounted-for camper, 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin. His body was located a short time later, dead from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Department of Public Safety’s division of criminal investigation, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the motive for the attack was still unknown.
“We don’t know what led up to this, what precipitated it,” he said, adding that so far, “the investigation has not revealed any early interaction between the Schmidt family and him.”
Adam Morehouse, Sarah’s brother, said the family had no connection to Sherwin and he believed it was a “completely random act.” He added that while the boy, Arlo, was on the family camping trip, he isn’t sure where the boy was at the time of the shooting.
“He is with family and he is OK, but I have not had any interaction with him,” Morehouse said Saturday. “As far as I know, he was uninjured physically.”
The park is closed and is considered an active crime scene, the DCI says.
A GoFundMe account has been set up by the family members of Sarah and Tyler. The account has been confirmed as valid to WFXR’s sister station, WHO, by Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green.
As of Sunday, over $136,000 has been donated to GoFundMe.
On Friday, Green took to social media to offer his sympathy to the community. “Like many of you just hearing the news, I’m devastated,” he said.
In 2018, the Schmidts moved to Cedar Falls and had been active in the community ever since Morehouse said. He said they loved the outdoors, and just got four pairs of snowshoes for Christmas.
“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?’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.