AP

Suspected gunman’s motive in Iowa park killings a mystery

Jul 25, 2022, 1:29 AM | Updated: Jul 26, 2022, 7:30 am

CORRECTS DATE TO JULY 22 NOT JULY 2 In this photo provided by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Anthony Orlando Sherwin is shown. Three people were killed in a shooting at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground in eastern Iowa Friday, July 22, 2022 and the suspected gunman is also dead, police said. Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said officers searching the campground found the body of a Nebraska man who had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities identified him as 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin.(Iowa Department of Public Safety via AP)

(Iowa Department of Public Safety via AP)

The question at the center of an investigation into the killings of three family members — including a 6-year-old girl — at an eastern Iowa state park campground is: Why?

It’s a question that, so far, investigators haven’t been able to answer as they look for any connection between the family and the suspected shooter. They have uncovered little to establish a motive, noting they have not turned up any connection between Anthony Sherwin and those investigators say he killed.

What police have said is that Sherwin, 23, of the Omaha suburb of La Vista, had no criminal history prior to the attack, and investigators said he appeared to target the victims at random. The man’s parents, who had been camping with their son, expressed incomprehension that he would carry out such an attack.

The shooting happened early Friday morning, when the victims from Cedar Falls, Iowa, were found shot to death in their tent at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground, about 180 miles east of Des Moines. Police have said Tyler Schmidt, 42; his 42-year-old wife, Sarah Schmidt; and their 6-year-old daughter, Lula Schmidt, all died in the attack.

The couple’s 9-year-old son, Arlo, survived the attack without physical injury, but police have not said whether he was in the tent when the shootings happened. Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said Monday that investigators have spoken to the boy, but declined to reveal what the child said.

“At this time, there’s been nothing discovered as far as anything that precipitated the attack” at the campground, Mortvedt said.

Sherwin’s parents had suggested that he might have heard the shots and grabbed a firearm in the family’s vehicle for self-protection, but Mortvedt discounted that theory.

“Without getting into the fine details of it, with everything that we have learned, we are confident that everything we have reported is how it played out and that he is responsible,” Mortvedt said.

Autopsies on the Schmidts and Sherwin began Sunday and were continuing on Monday, Mortvedt said.

The La Vista Police Department in Nebraska released records Monday showing that it had only one prior contact with Sherwin, when he walked into a police station in July 2017 to report someone had tried to use his insurance to get dental work done in Oklahoma. Sherwin later called police to inform them his insurance company had mistakenly sent him someone else’s bill.

Sherwin’s mother, Cecilia Sherwin, in a statement emailed to The Associated Press, described her son as kind, sensitive, an exceptional student and an aspiring businessman.

“We just arrived home and are trying to absorb the loss of our son and arriving home without him which is unfathomable,” she said. “I didn’t think we had any tears left, but we still find ourselves breaking down and care deeply for the little boy and the loss of his family.”

___

Associated Press reporter Michael Tarm in Chicago contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

4 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

4 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

4 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

5 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

5 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

8 days ago

Suspected gunman’s motive in Iowa park killings a mystery