An early morning shooting Friday at Maquoketa Caves State Park campground in eastern Iowa left three members of a family dead: Tyler Schmidt, 42, Sarah Schmidt, 42, and Lula Schmidt, 6, of Cedar Falls.
Law enforcement said the alleged shooter, Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23, was also found dead some distance from the Schmidts’ tent. He died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A spokesperson for the Division of Criminal Investigation in the Iowa Department of Public Safety said that law enforcement was not planning to release new information Sunday. Law enforcement officials had said they expected that officials would be performing autopsies on both the Schmidt family and Sherwin over the weekend.
Here’s what we know about what happened.
What happened at the Iowa state park where the Schmidt family died?
Law enforcement authorities were called to the park at 6:23 am Friday. They found three members of the Schmidt family dead inside a tent.
As law enforcement canvassed the area and evacuated the park for the investigation, they learned one person registered at the park, Sherwin, was unaccounted for, said Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Using an aircraft to search the area, authorities found Sherwin’s body “some distance from the campsite but still in the park,” Mortvedt said.
More:Updates from Friday: 4 dead in ‘horrifying and senseless’ shooting at Iowa’s Maquoketa Caves State Park, including alleged gunman
Who are the three shooting victims?
The three victims are Tyler and Sarah Schmidt and their daughter, Lula.
The couple’s son, 9-year-old Arlo Schmidt, survived the shooting. A GoFundMe page set up to help him had raised more than $135,000 by Sunday afternoon. A separate meal train to help Sarah Schmidt’s family as they gather to mourn had nearly 90 participants and raised more than $2,000 by Sunday afternoon.
“They were such an amazing family, filling in each other’s highs, each other’s lows, and none of them had any question that they were loved, they all KNEW it. Arlo is probably the smartest kid in his grade, if not the school, and I am praying he can overcome this because he is truly destined for great things,” family friend Kate Flather told the Register.
Tyler Schmidt was a software engineer and Sarah Schmidt worked in the Cedar Falls library. The library closed on Saturday as people put up memorial signs for the family.
“The Cedar Falls Public Library will be accepting cards, mementos, drawings, etc. in remembrance of the Schmidt Family, as Sarah was a beloved library employee. This is a natural part of the grieving process, and we wish to ensure that all items are protected from the elements. For that reason, the library asks that items be brought during normal library hours and placed in the front atrium,” Cedar Fall Mayor Rob Green, who is coordinating the city and the family’s official response, said on Facebook Saturday evening.
That night he posted an update: “It’s hard not to cry right now. I hope everybody gets a good night’s sleep. We need it.”
More:‘I can’t believe this is happening’: Family, friends mourn the Schmidts, killed at Maquoketa Caves State Park
Who was Anthony Orlando Sherwin, the suspected shooter?
Law enforcement officials said Sherwin is presumed to be the person who shot and killed the three victims. Nebraska authorities and a records search show that Sherwin is from La Vista, Nebraska.
Neither a Des Moines Register nor Associated Press search of public records turned up any criminal record that Sherwin may have had. La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten said that he lived in an apartment complex with his parents. Lausten also said that Sherwin had no history of criminal conduct.
Sherwin’s parents, Joseph and Cecilia Sherwin, told the Des Moines Register they were camping with their son in the park on Friday. They question law enforcement’s version of events.
“Why would he throw everything away when he was looking forward to going home? It makes no sense,” Cecilia Sherwin told the Register in an email.
How long will the Maquoketa Caves State Park be closed?
State officials said the park would be closed at least through Thursday, June 28, and reservations would be refunded.
“Our long-standing tradition of enjoying Iowa’s natural wonders was shaken today, but the legacy for the millions of families that recreate at Iowa State Parks will continue,” Kayla Lyon, Iowa Department of Natural Resources director, said Friday.
Where in Iowa is the Maquoketa Caves State Park?
The state park is in eastern Iowa, about 10 miles northwest of Maquoketa in Jackson County.
It has long been considered one of Iowa’s gems for its accessibility and its caves. Since 2004, Friends of the Maquoketa Caves State Park has worked to maintain and improve the park.
More:Maquoketa Caves State Park camper heard a scream and a loud noise near site of triple homicide