9-Year-Old Boy Sole Survivor of Campground Shooting That Claimed Lives of Mother, Father and 6-Year-Old Sister

Officers later found that a camper was unaccounted for and died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound

A nine-year-old boy is the sole survivor of a shooting that took the lives of his mother, father and six-year-old sister.

The family — Sarah and Tyler Schmidt, both 42, daughter Lula, and sole survivor Arlo — were camping at Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa when the deadly shooting took place on Friday.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety released a statement on the incident.

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“At about 6:23 a.m. this morning,” it began, “the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and DCI were notified of a triple homicide at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground. Officers located three deceased bodies. Officers later found that a camper was unaccounted for. Following a search of the area, officers found the deceased body of Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23, west of the park. Sherwin appears to have suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and there is no danger to the public.”

Authorities have named Sherwin as the suspect in the killings and the State Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy on him.

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Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green addressed the local tragedy in a post to Facebook.

“This morning, while camping at Maquoketa Caves State Park, our neighbor and Cedar Falls Public Library employee Sarah Schmidt, along with her husband Tyler, and daughter Lula (age 6) lost their lives to a 23-year old gunman who then took his own life,” the post read.  “Like many of you just hearing the news, I’m devastated.  I knew Sarah well, and she & her family were regular walkers here in the Sartori Park neighborhood. I was working with her this week on a public library tech presentation for 7/26.”

“Their 9 year old son Arlo survived the attack, and is safe,” the mayor continued. “I’ve notified neighbors, and for those of you just learning about this through this post, I am so sorry.  Details will be forthcoming about services and other memorials, and I will ensure the community knows about this. Please offer some extra grace to the Schmidts’ many friends, neighbors, and coworkers as we try to process this horrible tragedy.  The Cedar Falls Library will be closed tomorrow for the sake of the staff who loved and worked with Sarah.”

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Mayor Green later shared a GoFundMe that will use the donations “to help Arlo now and to build some savings for his future education.” The campaign has so far, at the time of publishing this story, raised over a $184K.

The GFM campaign says: “Arlo lost both of his parents, Sarah and Tyler Schmidt, and his 6-year-old sister, Lula, to a senseless act of violence during a family vacation at a state park in Iowa on July 22. Arlo is a strong boy, surrounded by family and friends who are supporting him as best we can. Some of you have asked how you might help, so we (Sarah and Tyler’s siblings and me, Sarah’s cousin) created this fund to allow anyone who would like to help Arlo. We will use you generous donations to help Arlo now and to build some savings for his future education.”

“As the organizer,” it added, “I will be receiving the donations on behalf of the family and establishing a trust fund in Arlo’s name.”

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