Three family members were shot and killed Friday while camping in a state park in eastern Iowa, and the suspected gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. Officers responded to reports of the shooting at 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 fatal shots in a tent at the campground, department assistant director Mitch Mortvedt said.
The three victims were related, Mortvedt said. He did not explain how they were related and gave no motive for the murders.
Later Friday night, the Iowa Department of Public Safety identified the victims as Tyler Schmidt, 42; Sarah Schmidt, 42; and Lulu Schmidt, 6. The department said they all lived in Cedar Falls, about two hours northwest of the state park.
Officials immediately evacuated everyone from the park, a children’s summer camp on the property and the campground. Once the evacuation was complete, the only registered camper who went unregistered was 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin, Mortvedt said.
“He was known to be armed. Of course, that also made us aware,” Mortvedt said. Iowa allows licensed people to carry firearms virtually anywhere in the state. Officials did not say whether the suspected shooter was licensed.
Using a plane to search the area, police later found Sherwin dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area of the park. He was from Nebraska, and investigators don’t believe he had a previous relationship with the victims, Mortvedt said.
Mortvedt said he could not say whether the suspected shooter had a criminal record. A search of online court records in Nebraska and Iowa yielded no evidence of past criminal behavior.
Autopsies on the suspected shooter and the victims would 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 located about 50 miles east of Cedar Rapids.