A nine-year-old boy has survived after a gunman entered a campground in Iowa and fatally shot the boy’s parents and sister before killing himself on 22 July.
A 23-year-old suspect, Anthony Sherwin, is accused of killing the boy’s three family members inside their tent at Maquoketa Caves State Park, where the family was camping.
The victims have been identified as Tyler Schmidt and Sarah Schmidt, both 42, and their six-year-old daughter Lula Schmidt, from nearby Cedar Falls, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green said the nine-year-old boy, Arlo, “survived the attack and is safe.” Arlo and his sister Lula both attended Lincoln Elementary School in Cedar Falls.
Mr Green shared a link to a GoFundMe page created by surviving family members for Arlo, who is described as a “strong boy, surrounded by family and friends who are supporting him as best we can.”
Sarah Schmidt was an employee at the Cedar Falls Public Library, Mr Green said in a statement.
“Like many of you just hearing the news, I’m devastated,” he said. “I knew Sarah well, and she [and] her family were regular walkers here in the Sartori Park neighborhood. I was working with her this week on a public library tech presentation.”
Police officers responded to reports of a shooting at the popular park’s campground before 6.30am on Friday, according to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Sherwin was the only registered camper at the site who was unaccounted for, according to police.
“He was known to be armed. That of course heightened our awareness as well,” Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, told the Des Moines Register.
Following a search of the area, officers discovered the body of Sherwin, who appeared to have “suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” officials reported.
The park will remain closed through at least 28 July.
“I’m horrified by the shooting this morning at Maquoketa Caves State Park and devastated by the loss of three innocent lives,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said in a statement with her husband Kevin Reynolds.
“As we grieve this unimaginable tragedy, Kevin and I pray for the victims’ family members and the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene,” she wrote.
Young campers at a Camp Shalom, roughly one mile from the shooting, were closing a Sunday-to-Friday term before they were loaded into buses and moved to nearby Little Bear Park during the “active shooter” scenario, according to an alert send to parents.