Iowa Family Slain While Camping Was 'Random Act of Violence,' Officials Say

A gunman entered a family's tent and killed a mother and father and their 6-year-old daughter. Their 9-year-old son survived the shooting and ran to get help. The suspect was later found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A family camping trip turned into an unthinkable tragedy after a gunman murdered a mother, father and their 6-year-old daughter.

Tyler and Sarah Schmidt, along with their two kids Lula and Arlo were vacationing at Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa when authorities say an intruder entered their tent and shot the parents and the little girl to death. 

Arlo, 9, survived and ran to another camper for help.

Reports of the shooting prompted authorities to immediately shut down the camp. When they did a roll call, they say they discovered someone missing, who turned out to be the suspect.

The body of 23-year-old Anthony Orlando Sherwin was discovered with a
a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“[It was] a random act of violence,” said Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. “There was no correlation or no relationship between Anthony Sherwin and the Schmidt family that we’ve come across."

The slain family is from Cedar Rapids. Sarah Schmidt worked at the local library. Her brother, Adam Morehouse, says their family is still in disbelief over the slayings.

“From the initial time of notification until even now and moving forward, I’m still sure that most of us are in the several levels of shock phase of disbelief. Those waves come and go as with every human, between disbelief and sadness, followed by anger, followed by more disbelief,” Morehouse said.

He is calling for people to rally around the young survivor.

“He is a strong little boy, but it’s important to know that he has a lot of struggles that he’s going to have to overcome forever now. That’s why we just want to focus on our grief, but we really are trying to focus on the love and support for him,” Morehouse said.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help support the little boy.

Meanwhile, the suspect's mother said in a statement: “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.”

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