December 6, 2023

MAQUOKETA, Iowa — A couple and their 6-year-old daughter were found shot to death on Friday morning at a campground at Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa, and the suspect in the killings was later found dead about a mile away with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the authorities said.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety identified the man as Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23, and said they believed he was from Nebraska. The department said there was no further threat to the public and that the park would be closed until further notice.

Mike Krapfl, a special agent with the department’s Division of Criminal Investigation, said that Mr. Sherwin was not staying with the victims. Mitch Mortvedt, an assistant director with the division, said that investigators did not believe that there was a relationship between the victims and Mr. Sherwin.

The authorities late Friday identified the victims as Tyler Schmidt, 42, Sarah Schmidt, 42, and, Lulu Schmidt, 6, all of Cedar Falls, Iowa. The motive in the killings was unclear.

Friday’s killings were the latest in a string of high-profile shootings across the United States, including one in May at a supermarket in Buffalo that left 10 dead, another in May at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers and another shooting this month at a Fourth of July celebration in Highland Park, Ill., that left seven dead.

On Friday, the authorities received a call about a shooting just before 6:30 a.m. and found three people dead from gunshots, Mr. Krapfl said. They were able to account for everyone at the campground, except for Mr. Sherwin, whose body was found west of the park about 11:30 a.m., the authorities said.

The campsite was evacuated along with a nearby children’s camp, Camp Shalom, the authorities said. All campers and staff members were accounted for and safe, the Christian camp said in a Facebook post.

The camp holds a number of summer programs for people with disabilities, including children, families and adults, from “a variety of denominations” of Christianity, according to its website.

Beth Sallak, an executive assistant at Camp Shalom, said the program director was notified at 9:13 a.m. of an active shooter situation at Maquoketa Caves, located a mile and a half from the camp. Staff members had initially been preparing for camp checkout but “switched gears” and loaded campers onto two buses that evacuated them to a nearby playground.

“This is the world we live in,” Ms. Sallak said. “So we have to train for things like this, and they handled everything incredibly well.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement on Friday that she was “horrified by the shooting” and “devastated by the loss of three innocent lives.”

Maquoketa Caves State Park is on 370 acres roughly 60 miles east of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The state’s Department of Natural Resources describes the park on its website as “a popular destination for picnickers and hikers.” A six-mile hiking trail connects the park’s 13 caves, including Dancehall Cave, which is 1,100 feet long, according to the site.

“It’s a great place to visit,” Ms. Sallak said. “Until today.”

John Peragine reported from Maquoketa, Iowa, and Jesus Jiménez, Claire Fahy and Vimal Patel from New York.

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