6-year-old girl, parents found shot to death in tent at Iowa state park, suspected gunman also found dead

MAQUOKETA, Iowa — A 6-year-old girl was among three Iowa family members fatally shot while camping in a state park, apparently killed by a Nebraska man who later turned the gun on himself, police said.

Cedar Falls, Iowa victims – identified by the Iowa Department of Public Safety as Tyler Schmidt, 42; Sarah Smith, 42; and Lulu Schmidt, 6 – were found early Friday in their tent at Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground, about 180 miles (290 kilometers) east of Des Moines.

Investigators gave no motive for the attack.

The department’s assistant director, Mitch Mortvedt, said the victims were related but did not elaborate.

The discovery of the bodies prompted the evacuation of the park and campground, including a children’s summer camp. The only person left unaccounted for after the evacuation was 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin, Mortvedt said.

“He was known for being armed. That of course raised our awareness,” said Mortvedt. Iowa permits those with permits to carry firearms virtually anywhere in the state. Officials didn’t say if Sherwin had a permit.

Sherwin’s body was later discovered in a wooded area of ​​the park with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Mortvedt said Sherwin had no prior connection to those killed, but believed he was the shooter.

The Des Moines Register reported that Sherwin was from La Vista, Nebraska. La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten told the newspaper that Sherwin lived with his parents in an apartment complex and that he had no criminal history.

Autopsies on Sherwin and the victims were scheduled to be conducted over the weekend, Mortvedt said, and more information would likely be released based on those results.

The state park was closed on Friday.

“Our long-standing tradition of enjoying Iowa’s natural wonders was shattered today, but the legacy for the millions of families who relax in Iowa State Parks will live on,” said Kayla Lyon, Iowa DNR director.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 6-year-old girl, parents found shot to death in tent at Iowa state park, suspected gunman also found dead

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