Boy, 9, Only Survivor After Gunman Shoots Entire Family As They Camped

Boy, 9, Only Survivor After Gunmen Kills Entire Family As They Camped In Tent At Iowa Park

A 9-year-old boy is the only survivor after a deranged gunman killed his entire family, including his 6-year-old sister, as they camped at an Iowa state park, and authorities say they still don’t know what led to the deadly shooting.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety identified the victims as Tyler Schmidt, 42; his 42-year-old wife, Sarah Schmidt; and their 6-year-old daughter, Lula Schmidt, all of Cedar Falls, Iowa, according to the Associated Press.

The boy, identified as Arlo, “survived the attack and is safe,” Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green said in a Facebook Post Friday.

The outlet reported that their bodies were discovered in their tent early Friday morning. The family had been camping at the Maquoketa Caves State Park.

Suspected Gunman’s Body Found Nearby, Believed To Have Killed Himself

The suspected gunmen was identified as 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin, who’s body was also found on Friday in the park. Sherwin reportedly killed himself, with authorities stating he appeared to have a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

On Saturday, Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Department of Public Safety’s division of criminal investigation, told the Associated Press that it’s still unclear as to what led up to the shootings.

“We don’t know what led up to this, what precipitated it,” Mortvedt said, before adding that “the investigation has not revealed any early interaction between the Schmidt family and him.”

The family apparently did not know Sherwin, according to Sarah Schmidt’s brother, who said it was a “completely random act.” Authorities did not say whether Arlo was in the tent or at the campsite when the shootings occurred.

A GoFundMe created for Arlo has garnered over $179,000 as of Monday morning. The fundraiser, which was organized by a cousin, said “Arlo is a strong boy, surrounded by family and friends who are supporting him as best we can.”

Campgrounds Evacuated As Authorities Sought Shooter

The Associated Press reported that the killings led to an evacuation of the park and campground, which included a children’s summer camp. Sherwin was reportedly the only person unaccounted for following the evacuation.

Campers said they were approached by park rangers dressed in helmets, vests and carrying what looked like automatic rifles, who told them to leave the campground.

Officials did not confirm whether Sherwin had a firearm permit, which would allow him to carry a gun virtually anywhere in the state based on Iowa gun laws.

Not much is known about the suspected killer, however the Des Moines Register reports that Sherwin was from La Vista, Nebraska, where he lived with his parents.

La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten told the newspaper that Sherwin did not have a criminal history.

Sherwin’s Family Refuses “To Believe The News,” Casts Doubt On Guilt

Sherwin’s mother, Cecilia Sherwin, told the Omaha World-Herald that her son gave no indication that anything was wrong prior to the shooting, and that the family refuses “to believe the news.”

Cecilia Sherwin said they too were camping at the park Friday morning when she heard yelling and two gunshots. A young boy then ran up to the Sherwins’ campsite yelling for help, before telling her that a man wearing black had shot his family, she said.

She attempted to cast doubt on her son’s guilt, telling the outlet that her Anthony was wearing green and not black at the time, and that no black clothing was found in the area.

She added that they were legally traveling with a gun, which was secured in a container.

“We think (Anthony) might have sensed trouble and grabbed the gun for safety,” Cecilia Sherwin said. “We refuse to believe the news. We are deeply saddened as he had so much to live for and gave us no indication that anything was wrong.”

Cecilia Sherwin noted that her family has “cooperated fully with police and investigative team from the get-go.” She also said she believes Anthony was killed by the same person who killed the Schmidts.

“Anthony was not capable of this sort of violence,” she said.

An investigation into the deadly shootings is ongoing, according to authorities.

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