Shooting In Iowa State Park Leaves 4 Dead, Police Say


Mitch Picasso Contributor
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Three family members were shot to death at an eastern Iowa state park on Friday, and the suspect was found dead by authorities a mile west of the incident due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation were notified of three dead bodies at Maquoketa Caves State Park campground on Friday at about 6:23 am, according to a statement from The Iowa Department of Public Safety.

The victims were found dead by gunshots at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground. Officers found that a camper was missing and investigated the area. Law enforcement found 23-year-old suspected shooter Anthony Orlando Sherwin one mile west of the park who appears to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police say. The motive is currently unknown. (RELATED: ‘I Felt The Presence Of God’: Shooting Survivors Praise Armed Citizen Who Stopped Mall Shooting)

The department reported the names of the victims as Tyler Schmidt, 42, Cedar Falls; Sarah Schmidt, 42, Cedar Falls; and Lula Schmidt, 6, Cedar Falls. Investigators do not believe there was any relationship between the victims and the suspected shooter, the New York Times reported.

The entire campsite was reportedly evacuated including a Christian children’s camp, Camp Shalom,  according to the New York Times.

Camp Shalom stated on Facebook that the staff and campers were safe and relocated.

There was an emergency situation this morning at the Maquoketa Caves. We evacuated camp as soon as we learned about it. All campers and staff are safe and accounted for in town at Little Bear Park, where we will do closing worship and pickup at the usual 11am time,” Camp Shalom posted to Facebook.

A number of politicians took to Twitter to express their condolences.

I am heartbroken to hear of the tragedy in Maquoketa Caves State Park and am praying for the victims and their families. My staff and I are following the situation. Thankful for all of the responding law enforcement,” tweeted Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa.

“I’m closely monitoring situation [sic] in Maquoketa Caves State Park. Praying for the lives lost & their loved ones Im [sic] grateful for Iowa law enforcement who responded +camp staff for ensuring safety [sic] of other campers Violence can’t be tolerated Killing innocent ppl is sickening,” tweeted Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa issued a statement in response to the shooting.

I’m horrified by the shooting this morning at Maquoketa Caves State Park and devastated by the loss of three innocent lives. As we grieve this unimaginable tragedy, Kevin and I pray for the victims’ family members and the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene,” the governor tweeted. “We ask Iowans to do the same,” she added.

Republican Representative Ashley Hinson of Iowa also issued a statement in response to the incident.

“This was a horrifying and senseless act of violence. As we wait to learn more, I join all Iowans in praying for those who lost their lives and our community. My team will continue to be in contact with local officials and I am grateful for our law enforcement officers who are working to keep us safe,” the representative stated in a tweet.

More information is likely to be released after autopsies of all four bodies, according to CBS News.