By RYAN J. FOLEY and MARGERY A. BECK
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, police said.
The victims from Cedar Falls, Iowa — identified by the Iowa Department of Public Safety as Tyler Schmidt, 42; Sarah Schmidt, 42; and Lulu Schmidt, 6 — were found in their tent early Friday at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground, about 180 miles (290 kilometers) east of Des Moines.
Investigators provided no motive for the attack.
Division assistant director Mitch Mortvedt said the victims were related, but did not elaborate.
The discovery of the bodies sparked the evacuation of the park and campground, including a children’s summer camp. The only person who was not accounted for after the evacuation was 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin, Mortvedt said.
“He was known to be armed. That of course heightened our awareness,” Mortvedt said. Iowa allows people with permits to carry firearms virtually anywhere in the state. Officials did not 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 the people who were killed, but that he was believed to be the gunman.
The Des Moines Register reported that Sherwin came from La Vista, Nebraska. La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten told the newspaper that Sherwin had lived in an apartment complex with his parents and that he had no history of criminal conduct.
Autopsies on Sherwin and the victims were scheduled to be performed over the weekend, Mortvedt said, and more information would likely be released based on those findings.
The state park was closed on Friday.
“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,” said Iowa DNR Director Kayla Lyon.
Foley reported from Iowa City, Iowa. Beck reported from Omaha, Nebraska.
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