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Family of 3 fatally shot at Iowa state park, gunman then kills himself


Three family members were shot to death while camping in a state park in eastern Iowa Friday, and the suspected gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

Officers responded to reports of the shooting at the the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground before 6:30 a.m. Friday, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said in a statement. Officers found three people fatally shot in a tent at the campground, division assistant director Mitch Mortvedt said.

Tyler Schmidt, 42, Sarah Schmidt, 42, and Lula Schmidt, 6, of Cedar Falls were all related — according Iowa Department of Public Safety. Mortvedt did not explain how they were related or provide a motive for the killings.

Officials immediately evacuated everyone from the park, a children’s summer camp on the grounds and the campground. Once the evacuation was complete, the only registered camper not accounted for was 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin, Mortvedt said.

Emergency personnel block an entrance to the Maquoketa Caves State Park, as police investigate the shooting on July 22, 2022, in Maquoketa.

“He was known to be armed. That of course heightened our awareness as well,” Mortvedt said. Iowa allows people with permits to carry firearms virtually anywhere in the state. Officials did not say if Sherwin had a permit.

Using a plane to help search the area, law enforcement later found Sherwin dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area of the park. Sherwin came from Nebraska, and investigators don’t believe he had any prior relationship with the victims, Mortvedt said.

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Mortvedt said he could not say whether Sherwin had a criminal record. A search of online court records in Nebraska and Iowa did not produce any record of prior criminal behavior.

Authorities enter a mobile command center at the entrance to Maquoketa Caves State Park on July 22, 2022, in Maquoketa.
Authorities enter a mobile command center at the entrance to Maquoketa Caves State Park on July 22, 2022, in Maquoketa.

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 park, which remained closed Friday, is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Cedar Rapids.

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